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Three points to keep in mind when you talk about poverty

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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Information and advice resources - Age UK

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Come across this very good article by John Veit-Wilson.

This deliberate closure of the poverty discourse so that it emphasises only individual deficits aims to distract us from two things.

First, it aims to distract us from the individual deficits of people who are not poor. People have the same behavioural problems right across society, right across the income spectrum, but some are not poor as well. That’s because they have adequate resources as well as behavioural deficits.

Second, whenever we talk about preventing poverty by doing things to or for the victims, it suggests the causal problem lies only with the victims, who therefore need to be changed. The aim is to distract us from understanding that the power to bring about structural change is held not by victims but by governments. Governments distribute collective and individual resources so that poverty is imposed on some people while non-poor people get benefits such as tax allowances. The prevention of poverty is a political problem, not a merely philanthropic or technical one. As Beatrice Webb wrote to the Royal Commission on the Poor Laws and the Relief of Distress more than a century ago, ‘poverty is not due to a weakness of individual character, but is a problem of social structure and economic mismanagement’.

It’s worth a few minutes of your time to read the whole thing.

Three points to keep in mind when you talk about poverty

Inverclyde HSCP Advice Services
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Thanks for the link. Excellent article by the way.

Mike Hughes
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Might nick that for GMWRAG. Not wholly convinced on the deficits aspect though.

If you accept that people who are not in poverty have behavioural “problems” then by implication there’s a suggestion that such problems can be solved or at minimum should be addressed. If they should be addressed for one group then why not the other and why not prioritise those in poverty to remove one of the factors perhaps in play. I am of course playing devil’s advocate to some extent but nevertheless I would be happy to be wholly distracted well away from any discussion of individual alleged problem behaviour when it comes to poverty.

Paul_Treloar_AgeUK
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Mike Hughes - 12 June 2019 12:37 PM

Might nick that for GMWRAG. Not wholly convinced on the deficits aspect though.

If you accept that people who are not in poverty have behavioural “problems” then by implication there’s a suggestion that such problems can be solved or at minimum should be addressed. If they should be addressed for one group then why not the other and why not prioritise those in poverty to remove one of the factors perhaps in play. I am of course playing devil’s advocate to some extent but nevertheless I would be happy to be wholly distracted well away from any discussion of individual alleged problem behaviour when it comes to poverty.

I suppose I saw that argument framed in a similar way to the discussions about Gove and his cocaine confession. As an affluent upper-middle class white male, he’s effectively excluded from the response that would be given to a young black teenager from a council estate who did something similar. The problem is in the eye of the beholder as to whether that needs fixing or not…

Sarah-B
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Its a great article, thanks for drawing it to our attention Paul - basically about social class and inequality

stevenmcavoy
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poverty safari is a decent book on these issues.

my frustration is the way many in the advice sector engage with the idea of “budgeting” as a thing clients need help with.

I don’t have a problem with “budgeting” advice for those who need it but in the main people on benefits budget far better than I do out of sheer necessity. the core issue is too many people don’t have enough money and then those same people are hardest hit by poverty premiums.

going back to the main point , i suppose the unfortunate thing is there is a public sympathy vote to be won in the arena of social security entitlements and the media etc are only interested in the “perfect client” cases rather than the real world where complexity exists.

MartinB
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“my frustration is the way many in the advice sector engage with the idea of “budgeting” as a thing clients need help with.”

Are you sure?

I was thinking we need much more targeted help… (err) supplied by data analytics…... to ensure better budgeting, and support, (Err) and better coaching to find work, and yes find cheap accommodation, and (err) a tough but fair sanctions regime for those that cant make their pounds go further. .

Have I got this wrong?