The poverty of welfare


The Campaign to End Child Poverty has released a report stating, "174 constituencies in Britain have 50 per cent or more children living in or on the brink of poverty". This is nonsense. A cursory glance at the statistics used, shows that the study defines poverty as "children whose families receive the maximum Child Tax Credit". Therefore, this is not a measure of children in poverty, but families in welfare.

Campaign chairman, Martin Narey is right that "These figures show us that there are millions more children than originally thought being failed by the system", but Campaign director Hilary Fisher is wrong in "pushing the Government harder than ever to do more to end child poverty in our country" and "demanding Gordon Brown does something about it, before it is too late." The 'system' that they decry is in truth the benefits system; the Campaign to End Child Poverty wants an extra £3bn to help the poorest families. Thus, to solve the poverty of welfarism, they are calling for more welfare.

These statistics show how reliant many families and communities have become on the state for survival. This inter-generational welfarism certainly needs combating. Although welfare reform is on the agenda across the political parties, the policies do not go far enough at addressing all the root causes. James Bartholomew, in the excellent The Welfare State We’re In, shows how the welfare state envelops much of this country including health and education. Without wide-ranging radical reform – cutting back the aberrant state to its role prior to WWII – the poverty of welfare will continue.