Fight Poverty, Not Ratios

Dan Jarvis is getting a lot of media play ahead of his Westminster Hall debate this afternoon highlighting the government’s shrinking of the cross-departmental civil service Child Poverty Unit from 23 staff down to 10. Jarvis argues that

“We are living through the biggest increase in relative child poverty in a generation. The Institute for Fiscal Studies predict that without changing course we will see a 50% rise by 2020.”

Sounds horrific, child poverty is going to rise by 50% in 3 years! Stop. Look around. Infant mortality has fallen, most health indicators are improving, even childhood obesity has peaked. How can child poverty be set to increase by 50%?

It is a ratio, not reality. As the economy strengthens middle and upper incomes recover at a faster rate than lower incomes – in part because of an unlimited supply of cheap labour from the EU – the ratio between the two rises, so the child poverty ratio rises. Even as household incomes rise for the less well off as well…

The creation of the Child Poverty Act (2010) was one of the last ideological acts of a Labour government that knew it was likely to lose the general election held two months later. It attempted to legislate against inequality, against people getting richer. The numbers show that absolute poverty, real poverty, where you can’t afford necessities, is falling as worklessness falls. Relative poverty, where you can’t afford as much as richer people, is not really falling – this is not a problem. Child poverty is not about ratios. Abolishing the Whitehall bean counters and focusing on work-based paths out of poverty is the way forward.

Labour talk a good game on poverty – it remains a fact that the unemployment rate always increases under Labour governments, this can have the effect of flattering the ratios. The best real child poverty counter-measure is working to support your family. No amount of redistribution, no ratios, no welfare measure can surpass the effectiveness of bringing home a wage to support your family.




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Quote of the Day

Jeremy Corbyn in the Evening Standard

“… we must also face the uncomfortable fact that a small number of our members and supporters hold anti-Semitic views and attitudes, which need to be confronted and dealt with more rapidly and effectively.

The evidence is clear enough. Labour staff have seen examples of Holocaust denial, crude stereotypes of Jewish bankers, conspiracy theories blaming 9/11 on Israel, and even one member who appeared to believe that Hitler had been misunderstood.

So let me be clear. People holding those views have no place in the Labour Party.

… we have not done enough to get to grips with the problem, and the Jewish community and our Jewish members deserve an apology. My party and I are sorry for the hurt and distress caused. … We must strive to understand why anti-Semitism has surfaced in our party…

… when criticism of or opposition to the Israeli government uses anti-Semitic ideas — attributing its injustices to Jewish identity, demanding that Jews in Britain or elsewhere answer for its conduct, or comparing Israel to the Nazis — then a line must be drawn.  Anti-Zionism is not in itself anti-Semitic and many Jews themselves are not Zionists. But there are also a very few who are drawn to the Palestinian question precisely because it affords an opportunity to express hostility to Jewish people in a “respectable” setting. Our movement must not be a home for such individuals.

Second, there are people who have come to see capitalism and imperialism as the product of conspiracy by a small shadowy elite rather than a political, economic, legal and social system. That is only a step from hoary myths about “Jewish bankers” and “sinister global forces”.

These views do no service to the struggle for a just society.”

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