Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Child poverty indicts New Labour

The number of children in poverty has increased by 100,000, and all measures of inequality, other than for pensioners, have worsened, according to the latest figures in the annual Households Below Average Income (HBAI) report.

The UK has one of the highest rates of child poverty in Europe despite being one of the wealthiest countries in the world. These are shocking figures and confirm the Government’s inability to reach its 2010 target of halving child poverty.

Martin Narey, Chief Executive of Barnardo’s and Chair of End Child Poverty, said “In a country as wealthy as ours it is a scandal that the number of children still growing up in poverty has increased; poverty which blights their life chances, poverty which for many is simply overwhelming. This Government committed to halving child poverty by 2010. These figures show that investment must be significantly extended if that target is to be reached.

"We are the fourth richest country in the world, we are a country where we can countenance individual bankers getting annual bonuses of £22 million while we give a family of two parents and two children, living on benefits, £10,000 to live on for a whole year," Narey said.

Niall Cooper, Church Action on Poverty (CAP) National Coordinator has commented: “This is a tragedy for those children and families directly affected, and an indictment of society at large. In spite of our growing prosperity as a nation, we are failing many of the poorest and most vulnerable in society - including children in particular. As last month's UNESCO report showed, the UK has one of the worst records on child poverty of any developed nation. These latest figures are a wake up call not just to politicians who profess to want to end child poverty but to all of us. We can - and we must - be willing to share the nations' prosperity more equitably, and to invest in our children's' future.”

But calls on the government to increase spending will fall on deaf ears and last week’s budget will push even more families into poverty by increasing taxation of the poor while upper income brackets benefit.

More than three decades of profit-driven globalisation has deepened inequality worldwide. And New Labour has been its greatest advocate. There can be no solution to poverty whilst the global corporations dominate our lives. It is surely time to bring this regime to its end.

Gerry Gold
AWTW economics editor

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