Tag Archives: poor

Why is Labour demonising the poor and widening social inequalities?

Embargoed until 21st August 2014

Peter Taylor-Gooby
Peter Taylor-Gooby

In a recent announcement about cutting youth unemployment benefits, Ed Miliband taps into prevailing public opinion by insisting that those on benefits must work to acquire skills in order to deserve them. The way he speaks of those who claim benefits is completely in tune with those who demonise the poor, with sound bites such as ‘Labour… will get young people to sign up for training, not sign on for benefits’.[i]

This prevailing belief is in stark contrast to two key trends over the last few decades, argues Peter Taylor-Gooby, Professor of Social Policy at the University of Kent in a paper to be published in Policy & Politics. He explains: “The first is that about three-fifths of people below the poverty line live in households where there is at least one full-time earner. Much working-age poverty is a problem of low wages, not of unemployment and ‘spongers’. Secondly, spending in other areas of the welfare state such as health care, pensions and education has grown very much faster than the benefits directed at the poor, unemployment benefit and social housing. Spending on the poor is unimportant as a cause of current public spending problems.” Continue reading Why is Labour demonising the poor and widening social inequalities?

We need to talk about poverty

Seosamh Mac Cárthaigh
Seosamh Mac Cárthaigh

Seosamh Mac Cárthaigh discusses the background to his article on ‘Need and poverty’ which is about to be published in the next issue of Policy & Politics.

How much poverty is found in a society depends on how poverty is defined and measured. In an obvious sense, the definition of poverty must come first. If we do not have a clear understanding of what it means to say that people are poor, we are unlikely to be able to devise measures which yield meaningful estimates of the number of people who can be so described.

Unhappily, the meaning of poverty is often taken for granted in scholarly research on the topic. It is not uncommon for estimates of poverty to be presented without any supporting discussion of how those estimates are to be interpreted. Where issues of interpretation are addressed, the discussion is frequently limited to a few paragraphs or even sentences. While studies usually offer some description of the measures used, they generally have little to say about why those measures were chosen in the first place or about what they are intended to capture. Continue reading We need to talk about poverty