Thursday, February 19, 2009

Real child poverty doesn't exist in Britain - yet

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation is calling for the government to spend an extra £4.2 billion to fight "child poverty" - but genuine child poverty doesn't exist in Britain.

The claim is based on relative poverty - a belief that if you are in a family earning a certain percentage of the average minimum wage, then you are officially classified as in poverty. There are problems with this definition.

First of all, it is based on total income rather than disposable income. I know there are many families who earn above the average wage - and therefore not "poor", but they have less disposable income than families who are officially classified as "poor".

Secondly, as relative poverty is based on an average then it is impossible for there ever to come a point when everybody is above the average. If you raise the income of those below the average then the average increases - thus moving it ever further out of reach. It's one step forward and two steps back each time. We need to work out a new definition of poverty which is based on a minimum standard of living rather than an ever changing financial baseline.

There are very few kids that are living in Britain today who would be considered to be living in poverty by the standards of my day, let alone the fifties, forties or thirties. Indeed, most of those classed as living in poverty today have higher standards of living, more spare cash and far superior conditions to those I and many of the working class people who grew up in the fifties and sixties had as children.

I'm not suggesting that we shouldn't try and improve the living standards of children living in low wage households, but this "relative poverty" crap doesn't do the cause any favours. Most of us are well aware that real, true poverty - which people of my age and above did indeed experience when we were kids - doesn't exist in this country today.

But if this recession does turn into a depression it soon will. The best way of dealing with that is to start putting Britain and the British people first.

1 comment:

Claudia Headon said...

Hi Stan,

My name is Claudia Headon and I am an assistant producer on - a two minute religion and ethics series that transmits every single day directly after the Channel Four news.

Each week of films explores an area of contemporary life, ethics or religious debate through seven different perspectives. Each programme is approximately two minutes long and features one person speaking directly to camera. The series is broken down into weeks and each week is linked by an underlying theme related to a moral or ethical debate, or sometimes an important anniversary or a news story.

You can see all the films we've made to date on our dedicated website: as well as via channel four's own website:

At the moment I am looking at the issue of child poverty and would like to speak to you. If you could get in contact via email or phone 02890397333.

Kind regards,

Claudia Headon