Thursday, 1 December 2011

Coalition is repeating Labour's mistakes on poverty says report

The Coalition Government is repeating the same mistakes as Labour on poverty reduction, according to a new report released today by the Joseph Rowntree foundation.

It's annual assessment of poverty in the UK warns that the Coalition does not have a comprehensive anti-poverty strategy, and relies too much on the tax and benefits system alone to encourage people into work, mistakes also made by Labour.

The authors calls for there to be a comprehensive anti-poverty strategy across all age groups whereas the Coalition, like Labour, has a strategy for child poverty only.

This ignores,says the report, the equally high level of poverty among young adults. It also ignores rising poverty among working-age adults without dependent children, which has risen by 1 million in the last decade.

The report found that in the year to 2009/10, the child poverty rate fell to 29 per cent, the second fall in two years.

Child poverty fell by around one-seventh under the previous Labour Government.

The report finds that like Labour, the Coalition's policies rely too much on the tax and benefits system to encourage people into work. There is not enough emphasis on putting the creation of more and better jobs at the heart of anti-poverty policy.

Millions more jobs are needed in the UK economy. Six million people were under-employed in the first half of 2011,this includes people who are unemployed (2.5m), working part-time but wanting full-time work (1.2m),and those classed as economically inactive but wanting work (2.3m).

Other changes to Tax Credits now mean that an additional 1.4 million households lose over 70p for each extra £1 they earn. Although the report welcomes Universal Credit as a reform heading in the right direction, it still will not address problems with low paid, insecure and dead end jobs. Without solving these problems, poverty can never properly be tackled – over half of all children in poverty are living with a parent who already does paid work.

Report co-author Tom MacInnes commented: '"A conservative estimate is that the country lacks at least four million paid jobs. In this situation, reforms aimed at improving incentives to enter work will increase the number scrambling for vacancies whilst doing next to nothing to reduce poverty".

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