The Truth

More Children, Pensioners, Living in Poverty .........

Stewart Cowan, 10/6/08

Tony Blair's 1999 target was to halve child poverty by 2010 and eradicate it by 2020, but figures just released by the Department for Work and Pensions for the year 2006/07 show an increase of 100,000 children living in poverty from the previous year.

The number of pensioners living below the poverty line increased by 200,000 AHC (after housing costs) and 300,000 BHC (before housing costs).

As the press release from The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) says, child poverty is now only 15% lower than in 1998-99.

It also reports that "The incomes of the poorest fifth of households fell by 1.6% between 2005-06 and 2006-07, whilst the incomes of the richest fifth rose by 0.8%." and that income inequality is "at a level higher than that which Labour inherited and equal to its highest level seen since the start of a consistent time series in 1961."

Yet the poor still think Labour is the party with their interests at heart.

The removal of the ten percent income tax band surely shows their contempt for the poor workers and pensioners of this country.

Kate Green, Chief Executive of the charity Child Poverty Action Group, said,

"It's a moral disgrace that we still have one of the worst child poverty records in Europe. Other countries do better, so why should British children suffer? We can end our child poverty shame and we must."

David Phillips, IFS Research Economist, said, “Further increases in poverty and inequality will not be welcome news to the Government, even though they should come as no surprise. We estimate that it would need to spend a further £2.8 billion a year by 2010-11 to give itself a 50-50 chance of meeting its next child poverty target. But the Chancellor will be under pressure to spend the same amount renewing last month’s ‘one off’ income tax cut, most of which benefits families on middle incomes rather than the poor.”

Of course, creating an even larger culture of benefit-dependency is not a recipe for long-term success.

On the same subject, Help the Aged and Friends of the Earth have been given permission to take the Government to court over its refusal to meet its legal duty to end fuel poverty.

Special Adviser for Help the Aged, Mervyn Kohler, said: "Fuel poverty is seeping into the lives of more and more households. Older people in particular are at risk."

"Court action will force the Government to face its shortcomings and develop a new strategy for tackling fuel poverty, both now and in the future."

The Government is legally bound to do all that is reasonably possible to eradicate fuel poverty for vulnerable households by 2010 and for all households by 2016. However, almost 3 million households in England were still struggling to adequately heat their homes in 2007.

The number of pensioners living in poverty is now 2.1 million AHC and 2.5 million BHC and children in poverty number 3.9 million AHC and 2.9 million BHC. (The most widely used measure of relative poverty is the number of people living in households with income below 60% of the median.)

Of course, these figures do not include the increases, year-on-year, in moral and spiritual poverty!