News in brief (a round up of what happned child poverty wise during the week)
A very busy and informative week in relation to child povertry news began on Sunday, an article on the demonization of disabled people, wirtten by Ian Birrell, David Cameron’s former speech writer, appeared in the Observer. The article suggested that ‘There is a climate of hostility towards people for whom life is already difficult and it is being fostered by politicians and journalists’ and used a recent example from South Tyneside to illustrate the effects. An Ipsos Mori report also showed how most parents believed their children would be worse off than them in the future. An interesting blog from James Plunkett linked this news to Nick Clegg’s suggestion of means testing some benefits for pensioners.
On Monday an OECD report highlighted how inequality was rising faster in the UK than elsewhere (although The Telegraph managed to explain this as being due to poor people not being very clever or motivated and a lack of discipline in schools) and a new ‘blitz on benefits cheats’ was announced, with news of ‘bounty hunters’ also being called in to tackle the ‘problem’. The Guardian also published a number of articles and resources from its Reading the Riots project early in the week, a couple of which explored the links between poverty and the riots, which drew this reponse from The Telegraph.
Monday night also saw the first documentary on Channel 4 looking at the supply of housing in the UK and the waste of the current stock with approximately 1 million homes estimated to be empty. The first and second episodes of the Great British Propoerty Scandal can be seen here
On Tuesday, the Centre for Social Justice had a piece in the Guardian based on the OECD report and the measure of poverty debate which was mentioned in last week’s round-up. Family Action also responded to Iain Duncan Smiths ‘theory of relativity’ . The Daily Mail also helpfully highlighted Britains benefit divide
On Wednesday – the 2011 British Social Attitudes Survey was launched which included a section of questions on child poverty which showed that 75% of respondents thought drug and alcohol problems were one of the main causes of poverty, along with parents not wanting to work. Again ,the report received a lot of press coverage and the Conservatives issued a statement which claimed public support for their policies and that the ‘report makes it clear that the hard working people of Britain want their government to bring an end to Labour’s something for nothing culture’.
On Thursday, and following on from child poverty findings in the BSA survey report, Declan Gaffney wrote a very thought provoking blog entitled ‘ Does the child poverty agenda now belong to the Conservatives?’, Tim Montgomerie followed this up with a piece in The Guardian called ‘Compassionate Conservatism is the only game in town‘, and Liam Byrne wrote a criticism of the Coalition’s policies in the Huffington Post. Quite bizarrely, and without obvious irony, the Mail published an online article berating the government for demonising poor people which included the following:
Take Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith’s recent offering that there should be no rise of benefits because too many recipients would only spend it on alcohol or gambling. That’s a disgusting slur. Not to mention ill-informed and inciteful. Someone should wash his mouth out with a bar of soap. I’ll happily step up for that. But then, in matters of demonisation of the poor, the Tories run a master class in it. It is in their DNA.
They think nothing of bandying around such heinous, undermining descriptions of other human beings including ‘scroungers’, ‘feckless’, ‘feral’ and ‘spongers’. The list is seemingly endless and Dave and his gang never seem to tire of pulling them out and using them as weaponry against the more vulnerable.
Graphic of the week
A summary of the findings from the British Social Attitudes Survey
Signpost of the week
Inequalities blog – an excellent blog with a number of different contributors writing on various issues relating to poverty, inequality and other social concerns. Well worth checking out and recent posts have included examination of ‘the deservingness of benefit recipients’.
And, as it’s been a busy week – an excellent piece by Mary O’Hara called ‘What George Osborne is cutting is hope’
This week seems like a particularly good time to highlight that this blog only provides a brief summary of what is happening poverty-wise in the news and it can’t claim to be a full and exhaustive list of everything that is taking place. If people are aware of things that they’d like to bring to our attention, please do so. I’d be very interested to hear what people have to think about the shaping of the debate around poverty that are emerging at present. The North East Child Poverty Commission is very interested in work to change public attitudes towards poverty and so this weeks stories have particular resonance with us.