Coalition accused of ‘judgementalism’ over proposals to include moral issues

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Bradford Councillor's concern over child poverty markers Bradford Councillor's concern over child poverty markers

The Government has been accused of “moral judgementalism” over its plans to include family breakdown in how it measures child poverty.

Councillor Ralph, who is responsible for children’s issues at Bradford Council, fears proposals to change the way child poverty is defined will deflect from the real problem of massive cuts to the benefit system and huge numbers of children already living below the breadline.

Ministers want to move away from the previous government’s focus on relative household income as an indicator of child poverty and use a “multi-dimensional” measure which takes into account factors such as unemployment, family stability and parents’ health and skills.

But the move has led to concern among some campaigners that the coalition is trying to duck commitments to abolish child poverty by 2020.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith denied that their proposals were about “massaging the figures”.

But Coun Berry said: “I am very concerned about the proposed changes. For a start we are working with figures that are two years old and we all know how bad things have been the past two years for families and those pressures are continuing.

“There is a huge number of people working who are in poverty and are paid less than the living wage. I am really puzzled by this idea of family instability. It is shifting away from reduced earnings and lower spending powers and loss of benefits, and it is becoming about moral judgementalism.”

Coun Berry said the Council was working to its own indicators and the issue was about more than if people are working.

“Getting people into work will not necessarily get them out of poverty,” he said. “My fear is this consultation is attempting to deflect from the upfront causes of poverty. I accept there are some complex discussions to be had, but we are all aware of how serious the problem is with the growing number of food banks and food parcels being handed out.”

A child is considered to be living in poverty if their household income is less than 60 per cent of average wages.

Last year that figure equated to £251 per week, which meant 2.3 million children were living in poverty.

Figures released earlier this year by The Campaign to End Child Poverty showed more than 35,000 children across the Bradford district are growing up in poverty.

Tong and Little Horton were the worst areas with 39 per cent of children living in poverty.

In the consultation announced to Parliament yesterday, family breakdown, drug addiction, debt and education results are among the factors that could be used to measure child poverty in future.

Mr Duncan Smith acknowledged that money matters but insisted it was not “absolutely representative of a child’s life chances”.

He said: “A fixation on the element of relative income or driving people over an arbitrary line does little to identify those entrenched in disadvantage or to transform their lives.

“The new measure would provide a much better indication of how many children are in poverty and to what degree.”

Eradicating child poverty by 2020 was one of the major aims of the Labour government, and the target was also adopted by the coalition.

Comments (3)

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9:13am Tue 20 Nov 12

angry bradfordian says...

So, in summary the Labour councillors are suggesting that money is more important than family breakdown, drug addiction and education results?

That doesn't like the principles that Socialism was founded on to me!
So, in summary the Labour councillors are suggesting that money is more important than family breakdown, drug addiction and education results? That doesn't like the principles that Socialism was founded on to me! angry bradfordian

3:05pm Tue 20 Nov 12

pockman says...

Agreed "angry Bradfordian". The question of poverty has never been a question of "income" solely ! Many, many children have been brought up by parents on the "breadline" (or below) but in a loving and stable family environment.They experience far less "poverty" than those brought up in wealthier families without a moral compass. It isn't about how much income a family unit has but how it is utilized.
Agreed "angry Bradfordian". The question of poverty has never been a question of "income" solely ! Many, many children have been brought up by parents on the "breadline" (or below) but in a loving and stable family environment.They experience far less "poverty" than those brought up in wealthier families without a moral compass. It isn't about how much income a family unit has but how it is utilized. pockman

8:56pm Tue 20 Nov 12

room124 says...

“There is a huge number of people working who are in poverty and are paid less than the living wage".

Just not Cllr. Berry though - who "earns" £39k a year just for being a part-time elected councillor. His wife, also a part-time Bradford councillor, "picks up" a further £13k pa plus an additional £4.5k as a member of the WY Fire Authority.

That's a joint income from part-time "public service work" of £56.5k a year.

And it's before any other income received from their Thornton-Berry Associates consultancy.

These people do not live in the real world and have no idea what a living wage is.
“There is a huge number of people working who are in poverty and are paid less than the living wage". Just not Cllr. Berry though - who "earns" £39k a year just for being a part-time elected councillor. His wife, also a part-time Bradford councillor, "picks up" a further £13k pa plus an additional £4.5k as a member of the WY Fire Authority. That's a joint income from part-time "public service work" of £56.5k a year. And it's before any other income received from their Thornton-Berry Associates consultancy. These people do not live in the real world and have no idea what a living wage is. room124

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