“I want this message to go out loud and clear….”

Today marks the end of the government consultation on ‘better measures’ of child poverty. The consultation has generated lots of debate and a number of interesting respones have been published recently, including a letter in The Guardian today from established academics in the field, along with an acommpanying article which accused ‘ministers of moving the goalposts’

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation published their response today, as did the IFS and CPAG published theirs earlier this week. An interesting article in the New Statesman asks why we are not more outraged by child poverty.

We will publish a summary of our response early next week and if anyone would like a copy of our full response please get in touch.*

But, to mark the end of the consultation period, I though it was worth revisiting a speech that David Cameron gave as Leader of the Opposition in November 2006. The speech was delivered as the Scarman Lecture and was entitled ‘Tackling poverty is a social responsibility’. In the speech, there are a number of interesting sentences which will be of interest to people who have responded to the consultation:

“In the past, we used to think of poverty only in absolute terms – meaning straightforward material deprivation. That’s not enough. We need to think of poverty in relative terms – the fact that some people lack those things which others in society take for granted. So I want this message to go out loud and clear: the Conservative Party recognises, will measure and will act on relative poverty.”

“Because as well as absolute poverty, there is relative poverty. We exist as part of a community, as members of society. Even if we are not destitute, we still experience poverty if we cannot afford things that society regards as essential.”

“So poverty is relative – and those who pretend otherwise are wrong. This has consequences for Conservative thinking. Tackling poverty is not just about a safety net below which people must not fall. We must think in terms of an escalator, always moving upwards, lifting people out of poverty.”

For me, however, the most interesting quote is this one – “I believe that poverty is an economic waste and a moral disgrace”.

Kind regards,


*The reason we haven’t/won’t ‘publish’ the full response is because we used the consultation form to answer the questions and it’s not particularly eas to translate this into a blog…….


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