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Talk of making poverty history is pointless, there will always be poverty and all the state and charitable institutions can do is to limit destitution which will happen to some extent under any system because no system is perfect.

His definition of extreme poverty is living on "less than 40% of contemporary median income." He's wrong to focus on relative poverty. Absolute poverty is what counts. How many people living in "extreme poverty" are obese?

The definition of "poverty" has been corrupted by the left to mean what we once called poor.

I have worked in Africa and I can assure you all that poverty is not wondering whether to go to McDonalds or Burger King but where the next meal is coming from in the first place.

Although there are some very well meaning people in the public sector, their are also parasites who need this definition of "poverty" in order to justify their comfortable superannuated desk jobs and rather than actually provide a means to get people out of poverty, it is in their benefit to keep them there.

Having been unemployed in the past I have first hand experience of how few people in the sector are actually interested in helping you become not unemployed.

Two things.

First, "poverty" will never be got rid of while there are people who make their livings out of getting rid of it.

Second, the government must carry popular opinion with it. You can't just impose solutions from the top and expect them to work and stick. That was Margaret Thatcher's biggest mistake: she didn't fight socialism, she simply won elections and imposed her own ideas. Having failed to change popular culture, once she had gone Major couldn't fight it and Blair and Brown reverted back to the bad old ways. This is one of my serious doubts about Cameron: his actions on party matters have shown that he favours the I'm-right-and-there's-nothing-you-can-do-approach; no attempt to win hearts and minds if he has the power to do otherwise. If he tries that on a national stage any reforms are doomed to failure.

Great stuff by David Cameron. There is something shocking about the level of poverty in our rich society. Lab has obviously failed. "Change required" as were told in Blackpool. Time for a Conservative approach to welfare.

I agree and guess that you agree with my observation.

There are a number of equally important things to address.

First that there must be a genuine route away from welfare. If you look at single mother provision for someone in London, they would have to earn c. £30,000 a year to make it worth giving up benefit.

Second, we need to change the green eyed culture that holds back the most creative and energetic in the ghettos. IMHO we need to take the more able out of the comprehensive bins of the inner cities and give them the opportunity to get an education more fitting to their abilities, rather than holding them back to salve the feelings of folks who do not want an education anyway.

Third we need to gear the tax system away from punishing people for working and saving. DC and GO have gone some way in this, a simple system that allows people to hold onto a significant part of their income is a prosperous one.

Fourth, for the people who do not have the means to get themselves out of poverty, then they need to have some road that helps them develop the tools to take part in the wider community, with some degree of incentivisation. I am not sure how this would work given the successive failures of schemes that have attempted this.

Next I strongly believe that people who are able and just dont want to take part should be forced to take up some kind of work. It is difficult to see how this would not descend to some kind of Workhouse scheme, however the assembled bright minds of Westminster must be able to come up with a scheme that would work.

Finally for those who are simply unable to work for one reason or another, we should ensure that there is genuine due diligence to ensure that they have been given the opportunity to take part, and that this is reviewed regularly

The comments on welfare reform are particularly interesting. One of the main reasons why jobcetreplus fails to help people into available vacancies is because they try to stuff anyone into any job going just to meet government targets. A more tailor-made and structured approach would certainly be better.

State dependency is a good barometer of poverty. Labours tax credit culture has sucked many people who were working and living independently of the state into dependency culture and poverty. Ideally I should like to see tax credits replaced eventually by a system that discourages state dependency.

Watch out Tim, the cavemen will be out in force on this one. Unless children are literally starving in the streets they won't even acknowledge the poverty in our country let alone want to do anything about it.

Most of these figures seem to contradict those collected by the poverty.org.uk, or at least you are being very selective. Where are you getting them?

Deaths due to alcohol rise with consumption of alcohol, and seem to be independent of which government is in office. They have flattened out since 1995.

"700,000 fewer children are now in income poverty than in 1998/99, a fall of 17%. On the alternative ‘before deducting housing costs’ measure, the fall is 23%. "

"Tax credits now help more than a million children in working households out of poverty, but the number needing such help has risen sharply."

"Although the number of children in workless households has fallen by a quarter over the last decade, the UK still has a higher proportion than any other EU country."

Tax credits are very well targetted, although the errors in implementing them have been appalling.

The main reason that we have these levels of poverty and the Europeans don't is because they have more State "interference" to deal with the problem.

Finally, is this person in poverty? He sleeps on straw in a small wooden hut, has no electricity, gas or running water, no access to proper health care or proper sanitation.

He's the Lord of the Manor in 9th Century Britain. Of course relative poverty is important! As the CSJ suggests, relative poverty is statistically correlated to poor educational achievment, crime and poor health! Pay less now to help these people through the State, or pay later when they are sick, in jail or can't get a job.

As long as we define poverty as having an income of less that 60% of the average income, there will always be "poverty", by definition.

If the average income was £1,000,000 we would still have people earning £590,000 and they would fall into the "poverty" bracket.

We need a definition of poverty which doesn't auntomatically raise the bar each year as the average wage increases.

If we don't change the definition, ambitions to wipe out poverty are meaningless

"Tax credits are very well targetted"

Passing Leftie, if tax credits are well targeted why is it that those working thirty hours can claim money out of the state, while those working fewer hours cannot? Why is it that someone working can claim more in money through the tax credit system than someone can claim through JSA if they are unemployed? The tax credit system is a deliberate political ploy set up to buy the votes of working people. Labour's rationale being that people won't bite the hand that feeds them at election time.

A good point to start would be to stop throwing open our doors to the wrolds poor.

I agree with Patriot | 13:40

On the current percentage basis, the carrot will always stay ahead of the donkey.
The poverty level has to be assessed in absolute terms not proportional.

As long as we define poverty as having an income of less that 60% of the average income, there will always be "poverty", by definition.

Oh, the joys of statistics. You are wrong. It is statistically possible to have no one with less than 60% of the average income.

I am very pleased that the Conservatives are continuing to refine the Social Justice Policy. This is critical for the country.

Unfortunately, it is not being drowned out by the Libdems but by ther Daily Mail front page story this morning (on Sky & BBC anyway).

I won't go into it but it has given the Government's burgeoning health fascist Dawn Primarolo (there is something of the SS about her) yet another opportunity to interfere in people's private lives.

The Libdems don't seem to be getting much of a look in either.

Obviously, the TV media is more interested in the drinking habits of the middle classes than the dreadful situation facing the poor.

I assume George Osborne is going to be consistent and produce the offsetting costs and savings of this plan as he did with the IHT/non-dom offset for public scrutiny to ensure it is not a unfunded spend commitment?

Oh, the joys of statistics. You are wrong. It is statistically possible to have no one with less than 60% of the average income"

Statistically possible certainly, but not actually possible, in a free society.

True Blue - correct - statistically possible - but you've missed my point.

What are we trying to do, socially engineer everyone's income so that nobody gets less than 60% of average, or save people from deprivation? Depending on what average earnings are in any given year, these two choices might be far from the same thing.

If the average earnings one day become such that 40% or even 20% of average is still "relatively" wealthy in terms of what it enables someone to purchase - why would you want to keep calling that "poverty"?

Yet that is what the existing definition does.

Better to define poverty by what is actually required to meet basic human needs - food, clothing, heating, water, social housing. This would shift the definition to being based on actual, measurable, fundamental costs in any given year, not average earnings.

A caring society seeks to provide a safety net to its poorest members, not provide a right to an income based on what everyone else is earning.

The first is moral responsibility, the second is a diluted form of marxism.

Everyone's knows there's a massive difference between median average and mean average right?

Using the median average actually seems a reasonable proxy for a moving absolute poverty (e.g. is someone who has to wash their all their clothes by hand living in poverty in 2007?). One way of dealing with the problem would be to set up a poverty quango to define the poverty line every year and decide what goods and services are now so common that not to have them is to be in poverty. The other is to simply use distance from the median to see how far away from society's mainstream people are.

Surely we just need to use an honest, genuine measure of inflation, then peg benefit increases to that?

Pegging benefit increases to salary increases is far beyond poverty reduction, it is redistribution of wealth.

I can't bear statistical illeracy. Anything you do to help the poor will be by definition redistributive; you'll be spending tax payers' money on poor people.

As think if you have a roof over your head enough food to eat, running water, heating, lighting, clothes, a free education for your children, free healthcare and a little bit left over, then the government has no obligation to lift you any further out of "poverty".

The only problem with not moving definition of poverty in line with technology is that the differences between each end of the spectrum become exacerbated, and there is good evidence that this leads to social breakdown. That's why many poor people in Glasgow are incredibly unhappy, and people with a similar level of income in India are happy.

My issue is that you can best help poor people the same way you help all people - that is by stimulating economic growth by cutting taxes, and removing taxes altogether at the bottom end of the scale.

Patriot at 15.40:

"Better to define poverty by what is actually required to meet basic human needs - food, clothing, heating, water, social housing. This would shift the definition to being based on actual, measurable, fundamental costs in any given year, not average earnings".

That seems a much more practical way of approaching the subject. Let the tories make a start by improving things from the bottom up.

A commitment to raise the personal tax threshold to £10,000 a year would be a tremendous step in the right direction and a debate on the pros and cons (and practicalities) of replacing most state benefits by negative income tax would be a second one.

There is another element we need to consider when discussing poverty and that is the perception of the less well of subjects that the state must provide them with lifes luxuries. We cannot confuse between the basic needs and the nice to have items.

I do not have sky TV, but that is my choice. What amazes me is the complaints I hear from people who are on low income, receiving tax credits that they cannot have any holidays, yet a large number of them have sky TV.

I would also go as far as abolishing the lottery - the people who can least afford it tend to buy more tickets and as Sir Humphrey would say, the poor are paying for the indulgence of the well off indirectly.

Tax credits as Tony Makara points out encourages the dependency culture. They did not have these mechanisms in Hong Kong or Singapore - but there are other safety nets. Cameron is on to something big here and that is 'the family'.

True Blue - I don't think we disagree about the need to have a prosperous society, and one where as many people as possible can realise their potential. The tools to do that all revolve around maximising the value and availability of good free education for those who can benefit from it, delivering a stable, vibrant and growing economy, and ensuring that all the hygiene factors like health and infrastructure are in place.

I completely agree that we as a society should ensure that the poorest and most disadvantaged in our society do not suffer.

Where I think we are a little adrift is that in my Britain we ensure that everyone has the tools available to them to lift themselves out of deprivation if they choose to, and have the health and capacity to do it. If they are unable or incapacitated then we have a duty to ensure that they have enough to live comfortably, in conditions which allow them to keep their pride and self respect. I do not believe in blindly accepting a target of making up everyone's income so that they receive 60% of the average regardless of what that may mean in absolute terms. And, again, defining poverty in this way is to set a moving target which will never be achieved without the kind of social engineering which this party should distance itself from.

The labrynthine web of complex allowances and credits introduced over the last 10 years need to be completely scrapped and replaced by something simple yet motivational, which ensures that people continue to be motivated to work when they are able, whatever benefits they are receiving.

I agree with you on tax - imho our tax system is broken and getting worse - council tax used to based on floor area, the size of your house - now it is based on value which can have no relevance to your income, expecially if you are a pensioner or have simply lived in the same house for any length of time. It has effectively become a "wealth" tax which we should never, ever entertain. National Insurance is tax by another name. We are taxed when we earn money, taxed when we spend money, and taxed every year on the value of the homes we buy.

We need a simplified tax system which everyone can understand and which allows everyone to earn enough to pay for the basics of life before they start paying tax - on this basis the @ £5000 personal allowance is far too low.

How the media let Brown off so lightly for announcing that the 10% band was being doubled I will never know.

Finally - we can't keep making these committments to redistribute wealth to our poorest members without being very clear about how the population numbers are going to move in coming years - sooner or later we will be forced to accept that we have to establish a maximum population limit for our island. What that figure is and how soon we arrive at it will directly influence what kind of society our children and grandchildren grow up in, and how realistically we can achieve the goals we set ourselves for eradicating true poverty in our country.

I think we can get too hung up on words and definitions of poverty. Clearly as society moves on it is a bad idea to let others fall behind. If we have people who are not engaged, but form an undeclass, then we will be unable to achieve the things we need to do as a nation. Its also expensive because we have to deal with welfare, crime etc. It makes sense to take people with us and improve the conditions of as many people as possible. Conservatives are and should be the real advocates for aspiration and opportunity. We are the ones best able to help the working class, not Labour. I know some in Labour don't understand that and like to discredit us but I'm afraid what I say is true and its something I am passionate about. Many working class people voted for Lady Thatcher because they wanted opportunities. In our own way and in modern times we have to do the same. I like what I am hearing from Cameron on this,


A major problem with welfare is that those on benefit with large families can rake in quite a large amount of money. I don't think its fair for any of us to argue that a single person on JSA is anything but poor. However the mega-families can reap sizable amounts in various types of benefit.

I would like to advocate that where a family goes beyond one or maybe two children that the state issues food/clothing vouchers rather than money for the upkeep of the children. This would ensure that welfare is targeted directly towards the children and doesn't become part of disposable income for the parents.

Webcameron have a video of the event.


When defining 'poverty', people always seem to keep referring to money to eradicate it, but money only benefits the paper-pushers who have charge of it. There ARE other types of poverty which are much more applicable in this glorious labour governed country, amongst the disadvantaged. Poverty of education, caused by the extremely expensive labour education programme of the last ten years which has been useless in disadvantaged areas. A poverty of parenting knowledge or skills, in most cases due to one parent families (which this government has been rewarding up till now), and often in this scenario a procession of 'step-dads' or boyfriends, who often distract the mother from parenting, and are often more trouble than they are worth (in the family context). Then there is a poverty of ideas as nobody seems to have a clue how to really tackle this whole area of society, and only because of the increasing number of feral children is anybody really making an effort to to take on board that the situation cannot be allowed to 'slide' any longer into further anarchy.

Once again, the Conservatives come up with strong ideas that show they would be likely to govern better than the current lot, but once again, there is a gaping hole at the centre of these ideas, totally obvious yet totally ignored. And that is jobs. There simply aren't any anymore. In the North, the Midlands and in Wales and Scotland there are pockets of severe deprivation and long term unemployment that are the residue of the decline of manufacturing. In London and the South East, jobs are plentiful, but the vast majority are low paid 'Mcjobs', especially for those who have few qualification. Many simply plump for life on the benefits system, leaving these unskilled jobs for recent immigrants, who are prepared to work hard for low pay.

The current Government's biggest crime isn't the billions of pounds they have taken in tax, or the killing machine that is the NHS, but the fact that on their watch, British business has just disintegrated. It isn't just the high profile MG-Rover's of the world; it's company's like KP, proving this country is no longer even fit to make crisps; it's BAA being sold off to a Spanish company. ICI, EMI, BAE -the acronyms of once great British companies going down the pan are endless.

The Conservatives will be more business friendly. But in my opinion they need more than that. I think they need a radical plan to save what's left of our economy and recover what has been lost. Then we might be able to offer the poor a better opportunity in life than flipping burgers on the minimum wage.

Editor, you touch on comments made regarding children in care. Was anything mentioned about when the Social Justice Policy Group under IDS would publish its report on children in care? It was mentioned in Breakthrough Britain but noted that a full report would be out by the end of the year, due to the seriousness of the issue.

This poverty agenda has its place, but let's not lose sight of the fact that we have just had the most horrendous series of announcements by the Chancellor which in effect increase the overall tax burden.

At a time when there is an outcry from most of the business sector about the changes to CGT and other corporate taxes which make us even less competitive we need to stay focused on the real agenda

Its the economy stupid, as someone once said.

This stuff about poverty is for a slow news day. Not this, of all weeks.

Politics is all about timing. Now is the time to prosecute the government, not to appease wishy-washy-wibbly-wobbly-guardian-reading liberal-do-gooders.

A commitment to raise the personal tax threshold to £10,000 a year would be a tremendous step in the right direction and a debate on the pros and cons (and practicalities) of replacing most state benefits by negative income tax would be a second one.

Here, here. This combined with the very sensible proposal not to decrease benefits or credits for couples would really improve things. There'd be far less interference in people's personal lives then.

Old Hack: "Politics is all about timing. Now is the time to prosecute the government, not to appease wishy-washy-wibbly-wobbly-guardian-reading liberal-do-gooders."

I disagree.

Forgetting for the moment the fundamental rightness of talking about fighting poverty (or although the term 'welfare reform' might be more sensible), I think there are many voters out there who like the traditional Conservative policies but want to know whether we care. Lots of voters deserted us in 1997 - and have stayed away since - because, although they did well out of the Thatcher-Major years - they felt (wrongly) we didn't have a heart. We need to be more up front about our one nation Conservatism imo. I'm glad DC is emphasising this and emphasising it now so show that he's not abandoning key modernisation measures from his first two years as leader.

Old Hack, nuLab is excessively business unfriendly.

Friends of mine in the restaurant trade point out to me the endless regulation that has virtually driven them to the wall.

My accountant pointed out that if I were to start a company that actually employed people I should prepare for the bankruptcy court now.

IMS the comment "Its the economy stupid" was Bill Clinton's. We could learn from his welfare reforms in the States.

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