The number of people living in poverty in Britain is set to rise by almost a million by 2014. This includes 100,000 more children despite Government pledges to bring child poverty down.
The Joseph Rowntree Trust and the Institue for Fiscal Studies (IFS) forecast a surge in one measure of poverty of just under a million within three-and-a-half years. Child poverty is also set to rise despite Government commitments to reduce it over the next decade.
Robert Joyce, of the IFS, told Channel 4 News that the rise will be “driven by welfare cuts” by the coalition.
He said: “We think that overall taking all children and working age individuals together – relative poverty and absolute poverty will both rise by just under a million over the next three years, much of that happens in 2013/14.
“Much of it is being driven by welfare cuts that are part of the current government’s deficit reduction strategy. Also a contributing factor is that the OBR is forecasting that earnings in real terms will fall in the future.”
Much of it is being driven by welfare cuts that are part of the current government’s deficit reduction strategy. Also a contributing factor is that the OBR is forecasting that earnings in real terms will fall in the future. – Robert Joyce, IFS
The “absolute poverty line” means someone with an income of 60 per cent or less than the average. For a couple with two children that would mean a weekly income of £344 or less. The IFS calculates 900,000 more people will be poor on this basis by 2013.
That will include 100,000 more children – despite a Government pledge to bring child poverty down. In fact Chancellor George Osborne has gone further than these commitments, asserting at his Budget and Spending Review that the measures would not increase child poverty on the relative measure in the next two years.
This report disputes that, saying that because of changes to housing benefit not included in Treasury calculations even child poverty will rise a little in 2012.
It’s important to say these measures of child poverty were beginning to go up in the last years of the Labour government, but coalition ministers feel these statistical measures of poverty defined by being “60 per cent poorer than the average income” are too narrow, and that wider measures are required. Particularly, their aim in alleviating poverty is about getting people into work.
"We're all in this together" is the coalition's favourite catchphrase. And it doesn't seem like that from Pennethorne House, Wandsworth. A tough neighbourhood in a deprived ward in an otherwise wealthy London borough is bracing itself for chill winds that are more than just about temperature."
Read more on Faisal Islam's blog: Difficult promises on poverty for coalition
Channel 4 News did ask the coalition for an interview but no-one was available. Chris Goulden, the poverty programme manager at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, spoke to the programme.
He said: “If you’re going to make cuts and you’re going to make welfare cuts then its pretty inevitable that’s going to affect poverty directly through benefits and indirectly through in terms of services.”
Asked to justify the numbers he said: “It is very difficult to prove and this report is looking at a four year window and as the report stated it’s quite important to look at back at what happened under the Labour government and also what the coalition government is saying they want to happen by 2020.
“I think it’s very important to watch out for the Child Poverty Strategy that is being published next March. That will hopefully set out the plans about how they hope to get from where we are not to a poverty level of about 10 per cent.”