Jobs ‘fail to lift poor out of low income and social exclusion’
New Start magazine
The government’s drive to increase the number of people in work will not tackle poverty and could increase social exclusion, a new publication has warned.
The book, Poverty and social exclusion in Britain: the millennium survey, found that many working people do not earn enough to escape poverty.
Pressure to work longer hours in order to boost income was increasing social exclusion because it made it more difficult for people to participate in social activities, especially if they had caring responsibilities.
The study found that a quarter of adults are poor – a slight increase since 1999. A third of British children have to go without one of the things they need, such as three meals a day, toys, out of school activities or adequate clothing.
Almost ten million adults and one million children are too poor to engage in common social activities such as visiting friends and family, having celebrations on special occasions or attending weddings and funerals.
The authors urged the government to massively redistribute wealth and improve public services in order to meet its pledge of ending child poverty within a generation. Returning to the distribution of income and power that existed in the mid-1970s would halve poverty and social exclusion.
However, the study found there had been a decline in use of public services over the 1990s and warned that this could lead to a drop in political and financial support for services mostly used by the poor, such as buses, if they cease to be seen as mainstream.
One of the study’s authors, Ruth Levitas, sociology professor at Bristol University, said: ‘The Labour budgets and tax credits have tended to redistribute from people without children to people with children, and people not in work to people in work, and in that way it is a horizontal redistribution, not a vertical one from rich to poor.’
A spokesperson for Church Action on Poverty added: ‘A minimum income standard is the most effective way of ensuring people do not slip into poverty.’
The book, priced £19.99, can be ordered at www.policypress.org.uk