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When will we start opposing this government!!!

Hmm, what is going on?

Yes, let us make a commitment to double child poverty by 2020. That will help us sweep to power...

This articles does contain opposition to the Government - it attacks the methods they are using to remove poverty and tentatively sketches out an alternative.

I suppose OL could be a bit less 'reasonable' than he is. THe problem is he is such a nice guy and it just doesn't work sometimes - despite everyone saying they want nice and reasonable politicians...

So you think we should oppose trying to reduce the number of children living in poverty.
The party will get no where at all if it says that everything Labour do is bad and we oppose for opposition sake.
We must practise the politics of the moral highground not that of the gutter.

Richard, how can you oppose a commitment to end Child Poverty? Letwin has said we will look at it in a different way than just money. Keeping a child in poverty will cost far more in the long term through wasted potential and possible crime and punishment, than it will to take them out of it. We do though need to look at the other factors surrounding the poverty and I applaud the commitment Cameron and Letwin have given.

Labour supporters are utterly convinced that Conservatives don’t care; that this is opportunism. Read the comments at the bottom of the Guardian article to see how this goes down in the other camp.


Richard, how can you oppose a commitment to end Child Poverty? Letwin has said we will look at it in a different way than just money

A nice sentiment, along with being kind to puppies and helping little old ladies cross the street. I looked forward to reading about how it can be achieved in keeping with Conservative values.

Part of the problem is that it's a moving target defined by Labour- everyone is getting richer, so the only way to decrease "child poverty" is to increase the income of the poorest 20% relative to the top earners. In fact by the definition of child poverty, you are effectively promising a redistribution of wealth. If you look at the countries with the lowest child poverty, they are socialist or at least European economies. Sweden, Holland, France and Germany all have lower rates than us, the States and Italy higher. Trying to equalize income across society through redistribution is not a Conservative tradition. If you doubled everyone's income, you'd have exactly the same level of child poverty.

However, I suppose it is as Adam Smith said

"By necessaries I understand, not only the commodities which are indispensibly necessary for the support of life, but whatever the custom of the country renders it indecent for creditable people, even of the lowest order, to be without."

I'd like to hear some suggestions as to how this might achieved without damaging our dynamic and deserving entrepreneurs.

The only suggestions I have to make are getting rid of the ridiculously complicated tax credits, decreasing the number of means tested benefits, increasing child benefit and upping the tax free allowance massively.


The problem is that the 10% most poor are on benefits, so tax credits and my suggestions do not help. Let's take it as a given that we don't want to increase benefits. "Putting them back to work" is a nice sentiment, but I don't think goverments can do back-to-work schemes very well. Maybe the private sector could help here.

so the only way to decrease "child poverty" is to increase the income of the poorest 20% relative to the top earners

No, child poverty is defined by the median, not the mean. It's middle earners that count.

What actually is the definition of a child in poverty? Is it little Freddy who doesn't have his own TV in his room? or little Flo who only has one holiday a year? or young Arthur whose mum can't afford the latest designer trainers for him ?

Before worrying about child poverty what about pensioner poverty?

I'm not sure what the figure is, but isn't it the case that we spend much more on each poor pensioner than we do on each poor child?

Pensioners have had a lifetime to save. Children don't ask to be born into poverty.

Perhaps a commitment to end the marriage penalty would be one step forward.

For the record I'm not the same Richard as the one who posted above.

There's no problem with a commitment to end child poverty, providing it is not brought about through redistribution. Letwin is correct, for example, to focus on the issue of broken families.

The DWP have a pdf outlining how we measure child poverty in the UK.

As important as the number in poverty is the depth of poverty. Does anyone have any data sources for this?

Andrew,

You miss my point. I too would like to see an end to all poverty, but poverty is relative and will always exist. You will always have people that have less than others.

What we are doing is letting Labour dictate the agenda. We should be setting the agenda not them.

For too long this country has been governed by the target culture be it in health, environment or in the area of poverty reduction.

What should we do to help those most in need? Give them more tax payer’s money? People have never had so much money from the state and yet they are still "poor". The state has never done more for people than it does now and yet people are still "poor". Schools now provide up to three free meals a day, free school trips and uniforms are also provided. Parents are given benefit money and help with rent and utility bills where do we stop?

As a party we should be promoting equality of opportunity not equality of outcome. We should incentives people to better themselves and to get out of "poverty". We should offer them a hand up, not a hand out!

DEFINITION OF POVERTY

-Anyone living on less than 60% of the UK average (median) income

-For a single person it means an income of less than £100 per week after tax, housing costs and benefits, says the New Policy Institute

-For a family of two adults and two pre-school children it means living on a weekly income less than £260, says the institute

I think Letwin is right to point out that this isn't just an issue of money. The children in my local council estate (no offence intended to anyone) all look well fed and many of the older ones own cars. As long as absolute monetary poverty has been defeated there is no need to tackle it.

Instead we need to bring in measures that will restore a sense of social cohesion to deprived communities. Ideas can be found at:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1904977324/qid=1144750243/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl/026-9537685-6069245
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1842750631/qid=1144750254/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_2_1/026-9537685-6069245

These were also recommended by Geoffrey Wheatcroft in his acclaimed book "The Strange Death of Tory England".

The Conservative leadership (to use the word loosely) seems determined to talk to anyone other than their instinctive supporters and so the Guardian is now their chosen "house" newspaper. Much good it does them - as Mark Fulford pointed out, just look at the comments that follow the article.

As a party we should be promoting equality of opportunity not equality of outcome. We should incentives people to better themselves and to get out of "poverty". We should offer them a hand up, not a hand out!

Richard, I agree with that when you are talking about adults and those who have made chioces, but we are dealing with child poverty. Now I know there are argument about why people are having kids when they can't afford it, but unless we propose sterilization, there is not much we can do about that. Letwin has said, it's not just all about money and I'll be very interested to see what ideas the policy groups have. We surely can't advocate punishing kids for the mistakes and chioces of their parents.

Having read the comments on the Guardian website, it seems more like outrage that the easy slurs aren't going to work. It makes sense to say that seeing poverty as only relatively having less money is not the way to look at this problem. These children are born into circumstances which are not situations of abject poverty, but they are situations where their life chances are badly affected in the early years unless nothing is done. Poverty is about a lot more than just having less money, it would make more sense to talk about these children as vulnerable. That is something that can be helped without resorting to the wholesale redistribution of wealth as most of you are suggesting.

*unless something is done

I completely agree with Letwin that deprived parts of the country arent being dealt with. Poverty may not be absolute but relatively speaking it can be horrible. Here in Margate we have Cliftonville (aka Kosoville) which is one of the places Letwin is refering to. There are issues with housing, anti-social behaviour and reliance on the state purse for benefits due to the lack of jobs. There is also a high number of single parent families here as well as teenage pregnancy rates that are as I understand it above the national average.

However, I need to see more than just the fact it exists being highlighted. I know it exists, I live just a couple of miles from that area. I need to see proposals. I cant sell the bleeding obvious. I need policies. Just supporting the Governments own target isnt really doing a job of it as its just mimicing the Government. It has an aroma of platitudes. I need to see tangible policies that I can sell.

If we really wanted to fight child poverty we'd ban divorce - but I'm willing to bet that won't be before a Policy Commission near you any time soon.

James M: I need to see tangible policies that I can sell.
Agreed, provided we don't buy into the Labour myth that all policies require action by the state. One thing we could do as individuals would be to buy books and arrange to read them to children who don't get that sort of input at home. (And if people hadn't been too busy making silly jokes about kettles they might have supported that idea from the Be The Change booklet).

"Labour supporters are utterly convinced that Conservatives don’t care; that this is opportunism. Read the comments at the bottom of the Guardian article to see how this goes down in the other camp."

Their comments seem to me to be astonishingly ignorant of the complexity of politics.

Perhaps this is because we really haven't argued our corner properly in years??

"[The Guardian reader] comments seem to me to be astonishingly ignorant of the complexity of politics.

Perhaps this is because we really haven't argued our corner properly in years??"

Indeed and no time like the present. See you all over at The Guardian to join in the debate?

It is possible to support the goal of eradicating child poverty without supporting the establishment of arbitrary targets for achieving this goal.

With New Labour, targets like this are little more than a stalling tactic for a government that is bereft of ideas - a sop to appease the media and to create the impression that action is being taken, when in reality, the government is merely buying enough time to fiddle the figures convincingly.

Personally, I find it re-assuring that Letwin is opposing what he calls the 'one-dimensional' approach of the Labour government against child poverty, and it is good to see Conservatives highlighting again and again the importance of all the other factors that blight too many lives in too many places.

It's good to see that we've done better than Labour at identifying the problems, but is there anything substantive to suggest that our methods of trying to solve them are any better?

With talk of wealth distribution and no-tax-cuts pledges, but nothing more than the odd speech here and there in praise of social leadership, it still seems that we haven't got the solutions quite right, even if we've gotten closer to the problems.

Poverty, in the true sense does not exist in this country. There is no reason for anyone to go hungry or cold. To see real poverty you need to go to Brazil, where children are sleeping in the drains, and once they get to 3 years old, they have to earn their keep, selling trinkets to the tourists.

Poverty here means only one holiday a year to the Costas, no personal computer, and no expensive trainers to keep up with your mates.

It is about time they concentrated on pensioners, who are on fixed incomes and still having to fork out increasing amounts in Council Tax.

I quite agree Daniel, but that is what figures are for surely - to fiddle with?!

We are back to what we were talking about the other day, suggestions that perhaps some sort of boot camp for both child AND involved parent is necessary. On the Jeremy Kyle show they have taken both child and important parent off to do trekking, abseiling and other similar things. One can be very cynical about it, after all it has to be edited and everybody knows how the media manipulates things, but apparently both child and parent did discover something about themselves in the process of being 'tested'.

I think this is an exercise that COULD be organised all over the country in areas where there are these dysfunctional 'lost' parents who don't seem to be able to work out how to cope with their children.

Surely the function of government is to minimise destitution while attempting to avoid creating any disincentives to entrepreneurialism, it is not a function of government to reduce relative powerty - if economic growth and technological advance are achieved then ultimately everyone will benefit.

It's Red Tory Democracy all over again. Never let the toffs control your party, I guess.

Oliver L is SO right. It's not just about money. It's about relationships, low self esteem, hopelessness, lack of a decent education, this is as good as it gets mentality. Cycles of deprivation from one generation to the next.
The babies I visited in 1973, who had been left lying in the same nappy all day, are the same babies who now figure in "Court in Brief" in the press. Thieving, Twocking, general thuggery and antisocial behaviour.Their sisters tend to make up for lack of love by having early babies to love, thus perpetuating the cycle.
Their depressed downtrodden mothers were just too fagged out to take any notice of them, so in between admissions to hospital for bronchitis, tummy bugs(unwashed feeding equipment) they just lay there, unwanted and unloved.
A minority, to be sure, but we are talking about intractable poverty here. These parents were, and are, resistant to advice and help. I have gone into homes where my feet stuck to the floor.
I believe "Sure Start" is slowly making a difference for these families, but nowadays, Health Visitor's case loads are far too high, as are Social Workers. I have heard tell that Nulab are muttering about privatising Health Visiting. Ye Gods, and Its Nulab that is thinking about it!
It's not Black and White, nor in the least simple, and most definitely not all about money!

"Never let the toffs control your party, I guess."

As someone who comes across as a traditional Tory I am surprised you are using the rhetoric of class warfare.

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