Monday, December 03, 2007

Poverty Reported

The Government's strategy for tackling poverty will be heavily criticised in two separate reports .

The New Policy Institute, an independent think tank, said moves to tackle poverty and social exclusion which have been pursued since the late 1990s had lost momentum . The most serious setback in the anti-poverty campaign had been an increase of 200,000 children living in poverty during 2005/2006, its report claimed. It added that this brought the total number of children living in poverty to 3.8 million for that year, and meant there had been no sustained progress on the issue in three years. since the Government first made its pledge to end child poverty in 1999, it was still 500,000 short of the target it should have reached in 2004/2005.

Half of all children living in poverty were part of a working family, a similar level to a decade ago, suggesting low wages continued to be an issue.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, found that out of 50 indicators of poverty and social exclusion, nine had worsened in the past year, mainly in key areas of income and work. "Progress on child poverty has stalled at a level that is only halfway to the target set for two years ago. Tax credits may be working, but they are not enough on their own. Yet the Government's budgetary and legislative programme set out this autumn contains no substantial new ideas about what should be done."

A separate Treasury select committee report, MPs said that the Government's commitment to halving child poverty by 2010 could be in doubt because it has not explained how the target will be met. The report expressed concern "that the Government may have drawn back from a whole-hearted commitment" to meeting its target. It warned that any backtracking would represent a "conscious decision to leave hundreds of thousands of children in poverty for longer than is necessary".

Socialist Courier has repeatedly counselled that Government cannot legislate away poverty through a policy of reforms . The idea that capitalism can be humanised and changed by a series of reforms is almost as old as the capitalist system itself. But reforms are implemented by political parties that seek and get a mandate to run capitalism. The motives for reforms may include a genuine motive to relieve suffering and to promote well-being, but the measures have the effect of serving the system rather than meeting the needs of individuals or groups. The simple truth of the matter is that systems of social welfare do not change the exploitative character of capitalism or even touch the surface of its symptoms. Poverty has not been reformed away and poor housing, unemployment, job insecurity and related ill-health remain very real concerns for the working class.

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