Tory Austerity & Child Poverty – Does anybody care?

A quarter of a million children will be put into poverty from today says the headline in a very good Guardian article over the Tory policy change to limit tax credits to just the first two children.

In fact it is a further and additional 250,000 children and this tax credit change is not the worst Tory welfare policy in this respect as the reductions in the overall benefit cap limit implemented from November 2016 will see many more children put into poverty.

On average each benefit-capped household will have 3.34 children so the DWP disingenuous estimate of this affecting 88,000 UK households is 294,000 children put into poverty and the Chartered Institute of Housing estimate of 116,000 households will mean 387,000 children put into poverty.  This figure are real and happening right now unlike the 250,000 children pushed into poverty with the tax credits that will take a few years to materialise.

Poverty? – There are so many definitions of the word poverty in use that it has become almost meaningless and my definition here is a simple one.  Welfare benefit decision notices after detailing what the person is entitled to say This is the minimum amount the law says you need or similar wording and thus anything below that is in my view poverty.

The UK welfare system pays at a very low level and a report of the Council of Europe (nothing to do with EU) said in 2014 that Job Seekers Allowance and other welfare benefits were, and I quote, manifestly inadequate to begin with which suggests my simple definition of a poverty level is set too high.

Then the DWP for (a) social security benefits and HMRC for (b) tax credits, which combine to make (c) ‘welfare’ admit in various official reports that around £33 billion per year goes unclaimed in welfare.

£33 billion unclaimed in ‘welfare’ in the UK population of 65.1 million means …

£500 per year for every man, woman and child of social security benefits and tax credits to which people are entitled goes unclaimed.

A couple with 4 children on average fails to claim £3000 per year of what they are entitled to and as that statistical average includes the Queen and Prince Philip it will see a higher household average on minimum lawful level income that is manifestly inadequate to begin with that goes unclaimed in many households.

If everyone got what they were entitled to would we need food banks?

A further point on poverty is that all non pensioner and some disability benefits were frozen for SIX YEARS and for example Job Seekers Allowance for a single person was £73.10 per week in April 2015  and will remain at that level until March 2021 (as the 2020/21 rates to begin April 2020 have been set in this parliament which ends in May 2020) that with inflation means the minimum amount the law says you need to live on will reduce by almost 15% in that time.

This will also exacerbate and create child poverty … yet do we, the general public, actually care?  I doubt that we do.

The public has become inured to cuts upon cut (aka austerity) and even when it comes to children a malaise of compassion fatigue has set in.  There is nothing but apathy with regard to the outrage that damaging the life chances of children should cause through pernicious ‘welfare’ (sic) policy upon pernicious policy imposed by the Tories.

Yet there is no outrage and we tend to focus on why there is no outrage from the scrounger narrative, poverty porn TV to even we are all in this together rather than getting outraged and angry about the impacts of Tory austerity – and even the term austerity has become accepted despite being a veneer-thin euphemism for cut after cut after cut.

The only conclusion we can sensibly draw is that the British people don’t give a toss about the welfare of her most vulnerable children … and the Tories know this and are using it to full effect by placing ore and more UK children into poverty by the day!

Depressing isn’t it?


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