Child Poverty 2


poverty wall

every brick a barrier

UNICEF – What’s in a figure?

UNICEF has produced a table based on a 50% relative poverty mean. It forms part of its submission in the Report Card 10, May 2012. In the table the UK comes 22nd, the USA 34th out of 35. Rumania holds up the pack. Therefore politicians would have you believe that they take poverty seriously. Here’s the problem, what constitutes relative poverty in one country will differ from another.

E.g. the working population of the UK may earn more than their equivalent in Spain, so the 60% median will differ for each country. It may also be the case that there are regional differences in each nation. For example; the North/South divide in the UK. A similar scenario will exist in all countries.

Point: On what do they base their table?

Q. Do I need a lesson in statistical analysis? Offers? Keep it simple mate!

UNICEF used a 50% median to compile its table; yet in its report it asks the UK to retain its 60% base. Why didn’t UNICEF do the same and use the 60% base? Would it have been politically unacceptable as more would have fallen into the poverty bracket? The figure is therefore arbitrary, Europe’s differs from the UK, and they both differ from the USA. Who’s got it right, any of them? Politicians love a figure it gives them somewhere to hang their spin.

Another measure that UNICEF use is the ‘child deprivation index’ based on the child achieving two of 14 basic essentials to include: 3 meals a day, 2 pairs of shoes, a quiet spot to do homework and able to invite friends for tea, etc. Surely every parent would give their child all that they could, if only they could afford it. In other words it all comes down to purchasing power but that is the system that the world is governed by, it’s called capitalism. You want to change the world – change the system! Good luck!

Needless to say but it is very hard to fight poverty: “trends in the economy and demography and education make progress against poverty so difficult to achieve.”        Ron Haskins,

Blame it on the Trendies.

The Child Poverty Action Group ( says that to understand poverty you have to understand social norms. This has a link with M. Corak when he says that relative poverty is all about how we participate normally in society. However, these norms can fluctuate with the economy. Obviously more disposable income is spent on gadgets when times are good, – ‘status signalling’ or flashing the cash.

How many people have an I pad, smart phone, 40/60” TV, all-in-one computer, 4×4 SUV, MP3, this seasons colour, the latest ‘hot’ fashion, and the new trendy shoes? How many young people walk into school as though they’re on a catwalk? Purring? How do you feel if you are the one in the class who can’t afford to compete? How many children will never get what they asked Santa to bring? Are these young ‘cats’ flashing the cash or merely making the world go around?




shopping spree


Trendies: A fashion war

children looking after the herd

What’s fashion?




 Many would say the latter, because people are employed: making, distributing, selling and eventually recycling the goods. It also encourages technological development, it feeds the machine.

Did you miss part one? Check here.

Child Poverty

 poverty cartoon digging way out


Eradicate child poverty by 2020, what a bold target. Question is, is it a good target? All the major political Parties in the UK have signed up to the Child Poverty Act. Can this be achieved? Hmmmm No! Why not? We only have 7 years to wipe out generations of neglect, of institutionalised poverty. In 2007 a target was set to halve poverty by 2015. Are the politicians spinning us another tale? Definitely! They haven’t got the footballs to play this game out. The players can’t even properly define ‘relative poverty’.

Are you a believer? Keep answers short – two words only.

The Government and all the charities involved talk the ‘speak’. They bandy facts and figures around like stars in the night sky and while the stars may shine they don’t give off much light.

Across Europe ‘relative’ poverty is defined as having an income below 60% of the median, (the average national wage). However, the European definition includes housing costs whereas the UK one does not. In the USA it’s 50% of the median. Child Poverty Solutions ( talk of ‘material’ deprivation as having less than 70% of the median


child lost in confusion

What the…

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, (JRF) ( say there are 2.3m children living in poverty in the UK. Barnardo’s ( have the figure of 3.6 million. Save the children ( say 3.9m.  While the charity, End Child Poverty ( have 4m.

JRF say ‘chronic’ poverty affects 3% of the total population.

Barnardo’s has ‘severe’ poverty affecting 1.6m kids.


Good news! The Child Public Health Interest Group ( and Barnardo’s agree that a family of 4 e.g. two adults + two kids needs an income of £349 per week to avoid falling below the poverty line. However, the BBC ( gives a figure of £420. I don’t know the value of promoting such figures as they are subject to constant change.

The picture is not any better in the USA. says that 16.4m children live in poor families and of those some 7.4 live in ‘extreme’ poverty. Thus a family in America need $23.050 per annum to avoid falling below the poverty line. The Huffington Post (.com) citing Clasp say that the poverty rate for young children remains at 24.5% and, that in 2011 some 5.8m lived in poverty and 2.8 of them lived in ‘deep’ poverty.

When addressing the same audience (and they are) should they not speak with the same tongue?

What’s with all these adjectives: chronic, extreme, severe and deep, can they  not just choose one?

Few people view poverty as poor families, of deprivation, of going without or underachievement. To some folks it’s all they’ve ever known. However, the consequences can be quite severe,

“..has persistent ill effects on nervous and stress hormone systems leading to lifelong problems in learning, behaviour, physical and mental health thus compromising the fostering of resilience and capability.”  ‘ From womb to tomb’

Adding weight to the argument, Hannah Matthews, (Director of Child Care & Early Education at Clasp.) states,

“The prevalence of poverty among the very youngest children means that during the first three years of life – a fundamental period of rapid brain growth and development – babies are deprived of the very resources they need to survive.”  Article Huffington Post.

While I would be looking for some empirical research to underpin both these statements; you must admit they make a powerful read. Barnardo’s joins hands with the above.

Significantly there are more pieces of evidence to support the views expressed.

Brooking Institution, USA (2012) suggests that without high-quality early childhood experiences, kids are:

  •          25% more likely to drop out of school
  •          50% will be placed in special education.
  •          60% less likely to attend college.
  •          70% more likely to be arrested for a violent crime.

Meanwhile JRF say that the cost of exclusion from society actually costs £25bn each year and a reduced GDP. (D Hirsh) That is a huge amount of money, huge! This is supported by Public Service Europe (.com) “Research shows that the cost of non-inclusion is higher than that of inclusion…”

Q. Is this based on the same research or independent studies?

If it is the case that it costs less to keep the poor out of poverty rather than pay for all their needs then why not do exactly that. Why don’t politicians take a pro-active stance on this issue and save us a load of dosh. They may say they have but..catch you later!  They could then cut taxes.

Sorry! My apologies, I must not ask for too much.  Ma, I don’t want to go to bed!

Does all this mean we should concentrate our charity donations on the basis of the old adage ‘charity begins at home’. The quick and easy answer is No! Why not? We pay more than enough in taxes for our government to meet the cost of welfare. It‘s just that our tax money is badly managed and spent. Politicians can’t help but screw up.

You can use different words and tone – for ‘screw up’ – if you wish.

make sure you drop in to part 2.