Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/723/14733
The child poverty mirage
Many people may have been pleasantly surprised recently to see in newspaper headlines that "child poverty is down". Is this a rare success for the Con-Dems' social strategy? Do cuts really encourage the 'big society' to solve all our problems? But just a little further reading showed the latest figures were nothing to get excited about.
In 2010-11 there were 2% (300,000) less children classed as living in poverty than the previous year. But the main reason for this is that child poverty is calculated based on the number of children in households with below 60% of the median income - which was down £13 per week from the year before.
So the great success is... everyone has got poorer so the very very poor aren't quite so far behind the rest any more. Many of those children claimed to have been lifted out of poverty have seen no change in their circumstances whatsoever.
And even using this lower figure, 18% of children - that's 2.3 million - still live in poverty. When housing costs are included, 3.6 million children are living in poverty. Almost two-thirds of households accepted as homeless last year had children. Unsurprisingly given the government's attacks on jobs, wages, benefits and children's services, there's no chance of hitting the target of eradicating child poverty by 2020.
Contrary to work and pensions minister Iain Duncan Smith's comments suggesting that the solution for these families is for the parents to "get a job" (there aren't enough) it's not just the unemployed we're talking about - 61% of children in poverty have working parents, up from 45% in the mid 1990s.
The problem is not a "cycle of dependency", it's not "problem families". The problem is a society run in the interests of a tiny rich minority rather than democratically planned to meet the needs of the overwhelming majority.
The Socialist Party fights for a socialist society where we can achieve full employment, decent wages and massive investment into desperately needed services to make sure no child is balancing on the breadline.
In The Socialist 20 June 2012:
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