From the TUC

Economic Report #2: Defining poverty

17 Jun 2010, by in Economic Reports, Economics

Today we have published our second Economic Report. The first section provides a detailed overview of key economic indicators, including growth forecasts, public borrowing figures and labour market performance.

In the second section, given the Government’s recent announcement of a ‘Review on Poverty and Life Chances‘, we consider how poverty is defined, and how definitions of poverty impact on Government policy decision.

There is no single definition of poverty, and measuring and defining poverty is politically contentious. Under the Conservative Governments from 1979 – 1997 there was no officially defined relative or absolute poverty line – the Secretary of State for Social Security claimed that as most people in the UK were able to feed and clothe themselves poverty had been abolished. The lack of Government acknowledgement of poverty’s existence meant that policy rarely reduced policy and regularly exacerbated it – between 1979 and 1994 the number of children living in poverty had more than doubled.

In 1999, the Labour Government committed to eradicate child poverty within a generation, and embarked upon a significant consultation on how to measure progress and define poverty. The consultation concluded that income needs to be central to any long-term poverty measure, that a single index of child outcomes had little support and that a tiered system which supplemented core low-income and deprivation measures with data on different dimensions of poverty, would provide the most effective standard. These findings were reflected in the Labour Government’s poverty measurement standard, and in the four targets set out in its Child Poverty Act (which focus on reducing the proportions of children in low income households, in material deprivation, in absolute low income and living in persistent poverty).

Recent analysis of Labour’s impact on poverty rates has shown that the approach these targets led to had some considerable success, with real falls in the numbers of children and pensioners living in poverty (although poverty among working age adults continued to increase).

The current Government’s intentions on poverty (both on definitions and policies) remain unclear, although it looks likely that changes in what will be measured and where the poverty line is set may well be on the cards. Previous Conservative Governments have tried to abolish poverty by changing the definitions – it remains to be seen whether Government will be the same.

The TUC believe that there are several key questions that the Government needs to answer about its poverty policy:

  • Will relative poverty and inequality still be measured? Income is not the only measurement of poverty, but it is the most important. Losing the 60 per cent of median income measure would indicate that relative poverty and inequality are not a concern of this Government.
  • Will the relationship between economic policy and poverty be recognised? The Government’s poverty review commits to examine how public policy can reduce poverty ‘consistent with the Government’s fiscal strategy’. But spending cuts of the scale currently being discussed will inevitably increase poverty – the redistributive impact of public service will reduce, and the economic impacts of cuts will hit the poorest the hardest.
  • Will some poor people be seen as more deserving than others? It would be extremely concerning if the Coalition were to prioritise poverty reduction measures for some families over others – but given recent rhetoric on lone parents and disabled people claiming incapacity benefits it seems likely that some will be judged to be more worthy of state support than others.

We look forward to more details of what the Government will actually propose – so far cuts to programmes including free school meals and funding to tackle unemployment and deprivation – suggest that the Coaltion may not see poverty as a central concern.

2 Responses to Economic Report #2: Defining poverty

  1. Tweets that mention Economic Report #2: Defining poverty | ToUChstone blog: A public policy blog from the TUC — Topsy.com
    Jun 17th 2010, 12:32 pm

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  2. Josephine Dixon-Banks
    Jun 19th 2010, 2:20 pm

    Until we expose the Ultimate Truth, America is a Corporation and the governed are a free labor resource.. business will be as usual ( Manifest Destiny/Feudal System/Dark Ages)..In the eyes of the Financial Powers that Be; Human Rights are the crumbs that fall from the Master’s Table ( The Extremely Wealthy).
     
    We (Corporate CEOs, Bankers, Land Brokers & Policy Makers ) hold these Rules of Law (Illegal Wars, Financial Debacle & Global Investments to be self-evident, that all Aristocracy Governments are created equal, they are endowed by their creator   (Avarice ) with certain unalienable  Financial Rights, that procure Financial Life, Financial Liberty and their Financial Manifest Destiny.  To secure these Rights the governed (Indigenous Peoples) and their gold, silver, diamonds & land will always be a mandated  and enslaved Free Labor Resource.
     
    Poverty is An Institutionalized Industry. Protect the Institution at any cost. Poverty is a much needed commodity to ensure War & Violence against nations. Poverty is ” The Cash Cow ” of The Rich & SuperRich. Poverty creates high salary jobs for administrations and those seeking to End All Poverty. The War against Poverty guarantees the victor the spoils plus a cheap labor force as an added bonus:
     

    Poverty: A mandated colony and territorial labor resource; wherein slavery, as the inner-city community and governmental fundraiser is The Age-Old Feudal System under the auspices of Globilization; The Political Kings..Barons..Knights which form The Alexander The Great Corporate Rule that uses Adolf Hitler mentality to bring Democratic enslavement to The World…
     
     
    BLAMING POVERTY ON THE POOR
     
    Give us your deprived, your malleable muddled masses
    hoping for a gentler taskmaster
    Welcome to the multi-trillion dollar industry, Poverty
    A.K.A, cheapest labor force
     
    Poverty works, never ever unemployed
    A much needed commodity to justify
    White-collar crime classes
    Teaching dastardly deeds—to procure monetary needs-
    fostering avarice greed
     
    Give us your deprived, your malleable muddled masses
    hoping for a gentler taskmaster
    Welcome to the multi-trillion dollar industry, Poverty
    A.K.A., cheapest labor force
     
    Poverty creates jobs for those financing the societal
    Institution of ya godda pay more taxes
    Blaming Poverty on the poor
    Look! what Enron did to those less fortunate
    Blaming Poverty on the poor
     
    Did not corporations want a billion dollar welfare check
    Blaming Poverty on the poor
    Blaming Poverty on the poor
     
    Give us your deprived, your malleable muddled masses
    hoping for a gentler taskmaster
    Welcome to the multi-trillion dollar industry, Poverty
    A.K.A., cheapest labor force
     
    No penance just punishment augmenting the pillar of economic pillaging
    Poor people put in the pillory from the political pulpit
     
    Poverty is prime property
    Poverty pimps portrayed as political preachers purely punitive but polite
    The pluralization of Poverty provides prestige of the patricians
     
    Poverty, the promissory note from the bureaucratic infidel
    The Truth will tell—the truth will tell
    Poverty the patriotic prisoner on trial for TREASON
     
    COPYRIGHT 2000 JOSEPHINE DIXON BANKS
     
     
    THE NEW INNER CITY SLAVE-PLANTATION
     
    The now-a-day slave or labor force
    The ruling-class determines the course
    The political master’s pastor contorts
    Politics and policy aborts
     
    The new inner city slave-plantation
    Human and civil rights violation with extreme taxation
     
    Work like a blind jackass
    Support and finance the ruling class
    Being bi-partisan-just a mask
    Cultured career criminals civilizing crass
     
    The new inner city slave-plantation
    Human and civil rights violation with extreme taxation
     
    The political engineers of The Greater Good own
    The inner city war-zone
    The psychotropic drug sets the tone
    Slavery as the new world order is the throne
     
    The new inner city slave-plantation
    Human and civil rights violation with extreme taxation
     
    Multi-tasking a labor saving device
    Freedom of movement has no right
    Monopolized government enslaved all might
    The inner city slave- plantation private and prime
    Real estate blight
     
    The new inner city slave-plantation
    Human and civil rights violation with extreme taxation
     
    The thirteenth amendment of the constitution
    On the inner city slave-plantation no social, no economical,
    No educational, no political absolution
     
    On the inner city slave-plantation, indentured servants,
    Chattel slaves, still considered Black Gold
    By the God Fearing slave codes used to control
     
    The new inner city slave-plantation
    Human and civil rights violation with extreme taxation
     
    On the new inner city slave-plantation
    The American Flag cannot wave
    Even Democracy is revered as a Black Slave
     
    Copyright 2005
    JOSEPHINE DIXON-BANKS