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At the Conservative Party conference in early October the Prime Minister David Cameron promised that ‘an all-out assault on poverty’ would be a central theme of the government’s programme in the next five years.
Whilst most of us would welcome this commitment evidence from the Resolution Foundation points to quite a different position being taken by the government. The Foundation which is chaired by a former Tory minister David Willetts, reveals the reality of the government’s welfare cuts that were introduced in the recent budget. The Foundation’s research points to a minimum of 200,000 working households falling into poverty due to these cuts whilst the definition of poverty that is being used to make these predictions is being abolished by the government.
You may remember that on 1st July this year Iain Duncan Smith who is the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions announced that he was to remove a key target to eradicate child poverty as the government would no longer define poverty as living on an income of less than 60% of the UK median. This statement led the Chief Executive of the Child Poverty Action Group, Alison Graham as saying that the government weren’t ‘strengthening efforts to end child poverty but were about burying the failure of the Government’s child poverty’.
The Resolution Foundation’s analysis also points to the number of all households – those both in and out of work – that will be in poverty by 2020 will rise by a further 700,000 to almost 4 million.
Behind these devastating figures are the attempts by individuals and families all over the UK struggling with lives which are a million miles away from the protected few mainly from privileged backgrounds who make the decisions in government and parliament to cut benefits and therefore reduce the life chances of the poorest in our communities.
The underlying values of community development of equality and anti-discrimination, social and economic justice, collective action, community empowerment, and working and learning together should guide us in our attempts to reveal the reality of the government’s speeches and present the real facts.
Keith Popple is available for lectures, training, consultation and research. Please contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org