13 October 2011

Another report from the Institute for fiscal studies (IFS), Child and working age poverty and inequality in UK: 2010 (October 2011), forecasts that child poverty will rise over the years of the Tory Libdem government and onward to 2020/21. This takes us beyond the earlier IFS report.

I have discussed child (and adult) poverty before and here I reprise the core data. In 1998/99 there were 3.4 million children in the UK in relative poverty, 26.1 percent of children. By 2009/10 Labour action had reduced that to 2.6 million, 19.7 percent. A massive achievement but not nearly good enough: hard though it was, more could have been done as I have argued in earlier posts.

In contrast by 2014/15 the IFS forecast around 2.9 million children in the UK, 22.2 percent of our children, will be living in relative poverty. Numbers in absolute poverty and for working age adults are also forecast to rise.

While the move to a universal benefit is expected to help many, a significant cause of the rise in poverty is down to the Tory Libdem shift to using the CPI measure of price inflation in place of the RPI for any increases in benefits. The CPI is generally lower than the RPI. Additionally, cuts in benefits, static wages or below-inflation increases, rising unemployment, and relatively high inflation are all contributing to the rise in child poverty.

We are going backwards on child poverty, relative and absolute. My anger stands on stilts. My language is “too narrow and too weak” to treat of this moral scandal.

Recent posts on poverty

Tackling poverty in Cornwall 24 May 2011
Child poverty: yesterday and tomorrow 16 May 2011
Making people poor 16 December 2010
Deprivation matters 22 May 2010

Language, thou art too narrow, and too weake
To ease us now
— John DONNE Elegy XI