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Misleading "poverty" statistics, Grr!




My local paper ran this sensationalist headline on it's front page today "Torbay among the worst in the South West for children living in poverty"
Quote:
Almost one in four children live in families who struggle to pay for basic needs like food, heating, transport, clothing and the extra costs of schooling like equipment and trips.

According to the new research 24 per cent of children in Torbay live in poverty

This is absolute rubbish in my opinion, and the benchmark of poverty in the UK must be a financial position far above what a rational person would assume poverty is. OK, I realise the stat's are referring to 'relative' and not 'absolute' poverty, but headlines like this make me frustrated sometimes.

The welfare system in the UK is extremely generous, to the point that it actually deters a lot of people from taking lower paid jobs (why work to be a few $'s better off each week when you can easily chill out for roughly the same money - I've been told that probably hundreds of times by many many people)
I've also worked for many years now in various roles in this system (from central & local government, to charities), and I have never actually met a client who could not afford to buy everything they need if they stopped smoking/drinking and wasting their money.
Example: An unemployed couple with one child will get their rent paid, local taxes paid, free medical/dental treatment/drugs, free meals at school for the child, plus around 180.00 per week in cash benefits to spend on food, clothes, gas, electric etc. - and for every extra child the couple has, add another 57.00 per week.
When you add it up it works out as follows: Average rent for a 2 bedroom place 130.00 pw, Local Council tax for the property 25.00 pw, plus the 180.00 pw cash benefits, that makes a total of 335.00 per week (US$536.00 per week or US$27,872 per year)

If someone in the UK was to 'take home' 335.00 per week in employment, they would need to earn 22500.00 per year as 5050.00 will be deducted annually in taxes.
I have met very few people 'on benefits' long term in my area who could realistically earn that amount, due to lack of qualifications etc, yet they still moan and complain about how hard life is. The majority of the many thousands of clients homes I've visited over the years have a full satellite package plus a flat-screen TV. Add to this the expensive 'brand' running shoes/track-suits etc, I have only ever really met people who waste their money and don't know how lucky they are.

Yes there will be children in the UK who live a life of poverty, but that poverty is usually created by selfish parents who choose to spend their money in the wrong way.

I'm being made redundant from my 'financial outreach worker' position at the end of this month due to government funding cut-backs, but to be honest, I'm really glad about it. I'm quite sick of seeing people complaining and bitching, when their lives are actually very fortunate compared to the many folk in our world who are truly living in poverty.

Oh, and this quote from the paper left me fuming!
Quote:
The report says that in such families parents will often try and shield their children from some of the impacts of financial hardship and the stigma of 'poverty'. Sometimes parents will make sacrifices, such as skipping meals, so that they can send their child off to school with a warm coat, or out to play in the same popular brand of trainers their friends wear.


Are we really judging 'poverty' on materialistic ability to obtain the correct clothing brands now in this country?? Absolutely pathetic! Grr! Rant over! Laughing



8 blog comments below

I also find this highly irritating.

I would definitely define poverty with absolute revenue numbers (and possibly other factors) and not with relative numbers. And even only taking revenue into account is not good enough. An example: they usually say in Belgium that there is a lot of poverty for retired people, but they only take into account the revenue of those people (pensions). A big part of that group has a lot of savings they can use and they live a very wealthy life.

Relative "poverty" is also an issue, but the actual issue is income inequality that is rising, which is a related but different issue and shouldn't be called poverty.
Bondings on Wed Mar 16, 2011 7:52 pm
Bondings wrote:
An example: they usually say in Belgium that there is a lot of poverty for retired people, but they only take into account the revenue of those people (pensions). A big part of that group has a lot of savings they can use and they live a very wealthy life.

Totally agree there, same in the UK.
My mother has no housing costs (mortgage paid off years ago), living in a 4 bedroom house on her own, without any council/local taxes to pay. She has a few $'s in the bank, and a pension which more than covers all her needs and wants. She even tells me how annoying it is when the media portrays pensioners as poverty-stricken.
Even if my father had never worked and bought the house she would still have her rent and taxes paid plus the same amount of money to live each week. In some ways she's actually worse off than folk who never worked and have always lived in rented homes because there's no landlord to phone when there's a problem...I suppose at least she has me and my brothers to paint/repair/maintain her home Smile

Bondings wrote:
Relative "poverty" is also an issue, but the actual issue is income inequality that is rising, which is a related but different issue and shouldn't be called poverty.

Thats completely the issue in Europe. Most of us have everything we need but we all wish we had more of the things we want. Yes, of course the gap between 'rich' and 'poor' is getting bigger, but everyone in the UK is offered a system which will provide a roof over your head, food in your stomach, clothes on your back, and healthcare. That said, I don't find myself crying and jealous when I walk around the marina of my town while looking at the millions of $'s worth of boats there. Good luck to them, they're financially rich, but we both enjoy the same ocean, even if my kayak is a lot smaller! Lol
I wish more people appreciated the things they actually have instead of coveting the riches of others. If our basic needs are met, well, everything else is a bonus really.
watersoul on Wed Mar 16, 2011 9:15 pm
watersoul, maybe your papers need to get out into the 'real' world. Since the government cut funding for your job, maybe you should just kick back and let the government support you for a while.

I find this irritating also. Welfare people have medical coverage, premium TV, smoke, drink and pop out another kid to get even more $$. Here in the US, there are families that are going on the 3rd generation that have never worked for anything.
I will stop now. My blood is boiling!
standready on Wed Mar 16, 2011 11:19 pm
Cheers standready but I will always work instead of claiming benefits, even if it means a few weeks helping keep the streets clean on minimum wage.

Lol @ your blood boiling as well, I totally understand the 3rd generation thing, know a few myself, and it winds me up that most are too lazy to get off their arses and actually earn the beer they drink on the weekend!
watersoul on Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:27 am
@standready, of course there is abuse of the system, sometimes a lot but probably not as much as you think. I find tax evasion (and similar) by big companies thanks to lobbying and being friends with politicians (creating loopholes, exceptions, special deals, ...) a lot worse. And not to speak of outright stealing and maffia extortions. Besides, a safety net needs to exist, even one that needs to be abused. Besides for some people (depending who, where, when) it can be pretty much impossible to find a job, it's not always their fault.
Bondings on Thu Mar 17, 2011 9:14 am
Bondings wrote:
a safety net needs to exist, even one that needs to be abused. Besides for some people (depending who, where, when) it can be pretty much impossible to find a job, it's not always their fault.

I agree with that, having worked for the 'safety net' for many years I've seen quite a few cheats who basically ripped the system off, but the vast majority were people who would be in a terrible situation without welfare help. I've spent a lot of time thinking how I would change the rules to prevent the cheats, but I've never found a way that would guarantee that someone vulnerable wouldn't suffer somewhere.
I guess I've adopted the attitude that I'd rather have a thousand cheats rip the tax-payer off if it means that even one genuine person is saved from starving.

Regarding jobs and the difficulty of finding one, there aren't enough jobs available for everyone so the more lazy folk in my area who don't chase work results in less competition for me. Yesterday was 'jobs day' in the local paper and there were around 50 (ish) advertised. Certainly not enough to meet the needs of the 3 or 4 thousand unemployed folk in my area Shocked
watersoul on Thu Mar 17, 2011 8:28 pm
@Bondings: I agree with a 'safety net' but wish that the government would hire a few to track down the abuse and report those deals you noted.

@watersoul: I too will always work instead of claiming benefits. If I were to really get into a jam and I have family I could turn to instead of the government.
standready on Fri Mar 18, 2011 11:09 pm
@Standready, The main reason I won't ever claim benefits is because I personally know most of the government workers who would be interviewing me in the welfare claiming process. Being on the 'wrong side' of the desk is not an option for me at all in my mind, and any crap minimum wage job for the short-term will be a far less embarrassing experience for me!
watersoul on Fri Mar 18, 2011 11:39 pm



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