Friday, July 03, 2015

UK govt recognising and redefining child poverty

The UK is going to scrap the practice of measuring child poverty by income alone. They have been using the same measure as NZ where the official poverty line is drawn at 60% of the equivalised median household income.

Although the minister did not spell it out, there will be a moral, judgmental dimension to the new definition. The government says it plans to develop a “range of other measures and indicators of root causes of poverty, including family breakdown, debt and addiction”, which it will put together in a “children’s life chances strategy”. Further details of precisely how the new measures will work are expected in the next few weeks.
Here's one reaction

 Fiona Weir, the chief executive of Gingerbread, the charity that supports single parents, warned that “further stigmatising single parent families will do nothing to tackle child poverty”.“Family breakdown doesn’t cause child poverty. It is unaffordable childcare, low levels of maternal employment and poor wages that push families below the poverty line,” she said.
'Family breakdown' is an unsatisfactory term because it infers a family existed and the relationship between the partners broke down. But in thousands of instances of single parenthood, that is not the case. Children are born to females who have no partner to support them or the child. And the poverty begins.

But if these cases can be labelled "family breakdown" (as in being attributable to the general reduction in nuclear families) then it is indeed a cause of poverty. The children are born into a situation where the knowledge about the unaffordability of childcare and low wages already existed and was ignored.

If saying that makes me guilty of moral judgement so be it.

Child poverty often begins with a poor choice. People who make poor choices shouldn't necessarily be punished for them but any pressure or persuasion a community can apply to stop them making bad decisions has got to be good. Identifying and talking about poor choices is a start. Trying to feather-bed poor choices only makes matters worse. That's how we arrived at the current untenable situation.

(Thanks Bob McCoskrie for the link).

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