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Call for more to be done to tackle in-work poverty
POLITICAL leaders are failing to grasp the changing nature of poverty in Britain, it has been warned.
Former MP Alan Milburn, now chairman of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, said many of the worst-off people at present were in work, but still poor, and said more had to be done to tackle in-work poverty.
He was speaking at a reception at the House of Commons, where Prospect and the York-based Joseph Rowntree Foundation launched a series of essays called Poverty In The UK: Can It Be Eradicated?
Mr Milburn said: “Policymakers and politicians have failed to get to grips with the nature of poverty.
“It has changed. Poverty is not a static class where you are always a member. It changes. Four in ten people in our country will experience a spell in poverty over any nine-year period.
“It is not that people are not working, but that they are not earning enough.”
He said five million people in Britain, including a disproportionate number of women, were earning less than the living wage, and called for the idea to be more widely adopted.
He said poverty, particularly among children, was a “national scar”.
Julia Unwin, chief executive of the foundation, told guests at the event that poverty had become difficult to talk about, as polls showed dwindling support for welfare, but said encouraging better debate was important.
She said: “We can fight poverty and we can win. If we do not, the cost to our society will be massive.”
Mrs Unwin recently wrote a book, Why Fight Poverty?, in which she cited the cost to the country of poverty, including through lost earnings and welfare payments.
Bronwen Maddox, editor of Prospect, praised the work of the JRF in providing sound evidence-based analysis.
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