Wednesday, May 23, 2007

When is Poverty Really Poverty?

According to a report by Bernado's Scotland one in four children are living in Poverty. They define 'children living in poverty as a couple with two children living on less than £301 a week after housing costs.' The important point is after housing costs.

If housing costs £45 per week (latest average weekly rent from Shelter) that’s £346 per week after tax. The average weekly wage in Scotland is £410 per week before tax.

It shows that statistics can be used in all sorts of ways and one cannot helped but think that Barnado's are using theirs to make a point about their particular charity. Poverty is described by the dictionary as being 'not having enough money to take care of basic needs such as food, clothing and housing.'


Heather Yaxley said...

I find the use of statistics by charities often unhelpful. I appreciate they are trying to raise the profile of their cause and make it more significant. However, by generalising an issue, I feel they do a diservice to those most seriously affected by an issue.

If everyone is depressed, poor, at risk of every disease, etc etc - doesn't the message lose impact and the solution seem to big to effect?

Richard Havers said...

Heather, I totally agree. I was going to say much the same in the post but wanted to leave it to see what others felt. It's a fact that charity is such a crowded marketplace that the whole thing is in danger of descending into some kind of free-fr-all

Lord Nazh said...

The one thing they fail to ever realize is that by definition, you will NEVER get EVERYONE above the poverty line. The line moves with the people

note: unless you bring all the other people DOWN to the line, then you could theoretically do it

r morris said...

Government has been trying for several thousand years to find the right balance between providing for the honest needs of its genuinely poor and enabling the very poverty it is trying to eradicate.
It has yet to find it.
It used to be that the extended family took care of many of society's needs, from child care to retirement. Now, it's the government's job. Government can not do this type of thing well.
That leaves charities.
Try as they might, they compete for the same hard-earned dollar (or pound) that the wage-earner is paying in taxes for similar programs.
It's truly a no-win situation.

Richard Havers said...

LN - aboslutely! Statistics are such a bugger!

Rob, the problem for the charities is that there are seemingly more of them by the day and the 'global charity' issues are hoovering up vast quantities of cash that starve the local charity initiatives.

Lord Nazh said...

The best/easiest way I can think of to help the poor and homeless would be to give them all jobs.

Minimum wage (or less) to CLEAN the cities they live in. No taxes, give them an area they are responsible for, pay them according to work done and when/if they save the money, they can step up to the next level

Richard Havers said...

LN, which US city has a major programme to get people back to work by not paying benefits and helping them?

r morris said...

First, my apologies to LN for my harsh comments on his posting about the virtues of George Bush. We can disagree respectfully.

LN, though it is illegal to pay less than the minimum wage, the rest of the program you suggest is similar to the make-work projects of the New Deal under FDR. We'll never know for sure how successful these programs would have been, because WWII saved the US economy. However, for the millions of Americans it helped, the programs were a lifesaver.
The result of the New Deal was a bloated government and citizen dependence on government programs.

r morris said...

Richard, I am aware of no cities that do this at present. However, there are urban enterprise zones in large cities, usually located in blighted areas, where businesses and individuals get tax breaks for locating.

These zones have met with some success.

Another problem with housing is that there is little pride of ownership in any government-provided housing. Just look at some of the big housing projects in the major US cities. Or look on the Indian reservations out west.