In a system where income goes disproportionately to the already well-off, ordinary workers are missing out on the rewards of their efforts, to the tune of billions of dollars a year. Welfare benefits, cut by a quarter in 1991 and increased just 8 per cent in the last budget, are far too low to meet people's basic needs.
The result is a doubling of child poverty and the return of childhood diseases unknown in most developed countries – a national embarrassment, as one researcher described it. Our cold, damp homes can be death traps, as a recent child fatality tragically showed. Our still-excellent schools are buckling under the pressures of dealing with children whose parents can't afford to buy them warm clothing, feed them breakfast, or provide a quiet space for studying.I briefly considered challenging the claim that child poverty had doubled using different statistics but to be fair to Rashbrooke by the definition he used, the claim is accurate enough. So I decided to take a different tack: