Poor Britannia – incomes fall, child poverty rises
Talking point: Is there any hope in Britain for those who are not already independently wealthy?
BRITAIN is getting poorer. As the economy stalls, a study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies predicts middle income families will face a fall in their annual income not seen since the 1970s, and one in four children will be living in poverty in 10 years’ time. Should the government be doing more?
We've inherited a shrinking economy
We've tried to do the things that help, said business minister David Willetts on BBC Radio's Today programme. "We've tried to hold down fuel duty…. we're freezing council tax. We've increased the income tax allowance."
But you can't ignore the basic rules of economics, added Willetts. "When you inherit a situation where an economy has shrunk by seven per cent, the money isn't there".
Government has promises but no plan
But David Cameron promised us he would not increase child poverty, says Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary, Liam Byrne, quoted in the Daily Mail. "Now we have the truth."
The Tory-led government’s decision "to cut too far and too fast" will condemn hundreds of thousands more children to grow up poor. "A generation of children will not thank Cameron."
Yes, for all the government's targets, there is no plan to stop child poverty's rise, says Paul Johnson of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, writing in The Guardian. In theory, some families will be better off as benefits will rise with inflation. Yet the benefits will not rise, as in the past, in line with the retail prices index, but with the slower growing consumer prices index.
This small but significant change, implemented by this government, will have negative long-term effects on poor families, adds Johnson. So, if the government thinks it can meet its child poverty targets, "it would be helpful if it could tell us how".
This is class war
Let's not forget youth unemployment, which is set to nudge past the million marker, says Laurie Penny in The Independent. But this isn’t just an attack on the young, it’s an attack on anyone without safety nets and resources. "There is now very little room in society for those who are not already independently wealthy."
A year ago, the commentariat were worried about a "lost generation" sliding into apathy – now they are worried about mass civil unrest. This isn’t just a generational problem. "This is class war." ·
Comments are now closed on this article