Iain Duncan Smith: poverty is not solved by just more money - Daily Telegraph Iain Duncan Smith: poverty is not solved by just more money - Daily Telegraph

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Iain Duncan Smith: poverty is not solved by just more money - Daily Telegraph

Iain Duncan Smith: poverty is not solved by just more money - Daily Telegraph

Figures to be published today are expected to show that the Government failed to meet its statutory target to halve the problem by 2010 – despite the huge amount of taxpayers’ money spent on tackling it.

Mr Duncan Smith will unveil a new analysis which will show that hundreds of thousands of children will be lifted out of poverty if at least one of their parents works 35 hours a week earning the minimum wage.

The introduction of the universal credit, under the Government’s welfare reforms, will mean that people returning to work from benefits will continue to receive some state support.

Any child living in a household which earns less than 60 per cent of the typical income is defined as living in poverty. This is likely to be changed so that children living in workless households or those with drug-dependent parents are highlighted.

Mr Duncan Smith will also set out plans to change the definition of child poverty so that a more sophisticated analysis is used.

Speaking ahead of his speech at the Abbey Community Centre in London, Mr Duncan Smith told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "What I'm talking about is getting away from a system that got so trapped in the idea of meeting a relative income target so narrowly that more and more money was spent on welfare but keeping people out of the work process.

"What we need to do is make sure we tackle poverty but tackle it in the process of trying to move them on (to work).

"If you just measure relative income levels you know nothing about what's happening to the family."

In his speech, he will accuse Labour of “pouring vast amounts of money” into increased benefit payments to tackle poverty. He is expected to say that the strategy has failed and parents need to be helped back to work rather than simply subsidised by the state.

He will say: “Getting a family into work, supporting strong relationships, getting parents off drugs and out of debt — all this can do more for a child’s wellbeing than any amount of money in out-of-work benefits.

“With the right support, a child growing up in a dysfunctional household, who was destined for a lifetime on benefits could be put on an entirely different track — one which sees them move into fulfilling and sustainable work. In doing so, they will pull themselves out of poverty.”

He will add: “Our latest analysis suggests that universal credit will ensure the vast majority of children will be lifted out of poverty if at least one parent works 35 hours a week at the minimum wage — or 24 hours if they are a lone parent.

“For those who are able to work, work has to be seen as the best route out of poverty. For work is not just about more money — it is transformative. It’s about taking responsibility for yourself and your family.”

Mr Duncan Smith will indicate that Labour wasted large amounts of public funds as it failed to halve child poverty. “The last Government spoke about the need to tackle poverty, and poured vast amounts of money into the pursuit of this ambition — £150 billion was spent on tax credits alone between 2004 and 2010.

“Overall, the welfare bill increased by some 40 per cent in real terms, even in a decade of rising growth and rising employment,” he will say.

Ministers are drawing up plans to introduce a series of measures to gauge whether families are living in poverty, such as whether parents have drug or alcohol problems or whether they are working.

In today’s speech, the Work and Pensions Secretary is expected to defend the need to change the definition of child poverty. “If a family has less than 60 per cent of the median income it is said to be poor, if it has 60 per cent or more it is not,” he will say.

“By this narrow measure, if you have a family who sits one pound below the poverty line you can do a magical thing. Give them one pound more, say through increased benefit payments, and you can apparently change everything — you are said to have pulled them out of poverty. But increased income from welfare transfers is temporary if nothing changes.”

Mr Duncan Smith’s call for disadvantaged families to return to work may come at an inopportune time with unemployment rising as the double-dip recession has led to a lack of jobs.

William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, caused controversy recently by telling Britons they had to work harder to help the UK escape from recession.

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