Tag Archives: Ending Poverty

Ending relative poverty in the UK is easy

Recently I have seen a couple of comments on LDV which state that ending relative poverty in the UK would be a difficult and complex thing to achieve. They are mistaken.

The reason someone is living in relative poverty is because they don’t have enough money. The answer, therefore, is to ensure that benefit levels give them enough to pay all of their housing costs and have enough left over to be on the poverty line and not below it. As Philip Alston, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights in his report points out “employment alone is insufficient” to lift someone out of poverty.

Already we have a system which reduces benefits by 63p for every pound earned, but 4 million workers live in poverty. This is because the gain from working is not enough to lift the person out of poverty. If they were already out of poverty when living only on benefits then no one working could be living in poverty.

We need to ensure that those living on benefits have enough money to pay all of their housing costs. Scrapping the benefit cap helps, as would increasing Local Housing Allowance in line with local rents (both party policy). However, they don’t go far enough. Local Housing Allowance was introduced by the Labour government in 2008. It sets maximums for housing benefit depending on local rents, and sets out what type of accommodation different types of families can have.

It is not liberal for the state to tell people how many rooms they can have to live in. It is not liberal for the state to force tenants into debt arrears. It is not liberal for the state to force someone to move house when they experience difficult times such as when they become unemployed.

It is liberal for the state to pay 100% of the housing costs of those on benefit. Therefore we should have as our long-term aim scrapping the LHA and in the meantime increase its value above the bottom 30% of local rents. (I expect this is the main reason that 1.9 million pensioners are living in poverty). The least we should do is reduce the single person age down to 25 from 35, so a single person aged between 25 and 34 should no longer be forced to live in shared accommodation.

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A fairer share for all – ending poverty in the UK. Part Three

On Friday afternoon at our Federal conference, there was a consultation session on A Fairer Share for All – consultation paper. The consultation period continues until Sunday 31st March. I think members should email their comments rather than answer the questions the working group asks as I don’t think the questions cover all the areas that need commenting on.

The consultation paper doesn’t talk about levels of benefits (which I have done mainly in a-fairer-share-for-all-ending-poverty-in-the-UK-part-two-60199. The working group asks about reforming or scrapping Universal Credit. I think Universal Credit should be scrapped and replaced with a Working Credit for people of working age in work and all the old benefits kept. This new benefit should keep the 63% taper of Universal Credit but apply it to the new rates of benefit I set out in part two, where for every pound of net income a person loses 63 pence in benefit. However, the “work allowances” should be replaced with disregards and they should be the same for people no matter if they are receiving housing benefit. Instead of restoring the three ‘higher work allowance’ rates of £734, £536 and £647 a month I would replace both the higher and lower rates with £140 a week for claimants with children and those receiving Employment and Support Allowance.

Moreover, instead of the £110 a month for those without children, I would set it at £50 a week for each adult who is in work (therefore if both parents were in work they would have a weekly disregard of £190 a week. I wonder if the taper on housing benefit which would be the last element to be reduced should be higher. A very complicated system would be to apply to say a 70% taper to the first £70 of housing benefit a week, 80% of the next £70 and 90% of the rest (over £140 a week). The new Working Credit could be calculated every two weeks or every month as chosen by the claimant.

Posted in News and Op-eds | 4 Comments
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