After the government has pursued a series of attacks on the poorest section of the working class in recent years, they have apparently decideded to try and give something back to the poor by launching a new Child Poverty Unit. This is a way of the government showing its willingness to end child poverty which was, believe it or not, a stated Labour policy in 2007. In Scotland for instance one in four children still grows up in poverty. This nakedly displays the utter bankruptcy of New Labour’s market orientated policy.
What is poverty according to the Brown administration?
If you are a lone parent with one child and earning below £217 before the cost of housing then you are officially recognised as living in poverty. If you are a couple with two children and make a net worth of less than £332 before the cost of your housing then you are also officially recognised as being in poverty. Similarly households earning less than 60% of the median for households in a similar position are officially recognised as in poverty.
Living on a low income is anything but easy for a household; this is however only the tip of the iceberg as many low income earners will not be included in this new initiative.
The Unit’s initiatives
Now to discuss the initiatives of the Brown government to tackle child poverty. Their aims are to break the ‘cycles of deprivation’ which plague society today as a result of capitalism, by improving healthcare, education and ‘getting people working’, Improving healthcare and education are both extremely positive things. However this comes from a government that has done all it can to asset-strip public services and portion them off to private companies. ‘Getting people to work’ is a questionable initiative as many poor households are already working. This is often the case for immigrant workers from Eastern European countries, who are moving to Britain looking for work and being hired for far below the minimum wage and working exploitative hours. How is it possible for ‘getting them working’ to alleviate them from poverty?!
No Solution without Struggle
Many of those that do work yet are in poverty are unorganised workers paid below the minimum wage. Workers’ conditions will never be improved without struggle and the same is true for benefit payments and other measures against poverty. Only by organising low paid, super exploited workers into trade unions and a more general labour movement campaign for a guaranteed living wage and decent benefits and a job for everyone who wants one can we hope to see the end the horrific cycle of child poverty.
The struggle by these workers needs to go not only alongside but in collaboration with the wider struggle for a socialist society in Britain, as only with a massive redistribution of wealth and a nationalised planned economy can the resources of society be structured in such a way that allows all to live lives free of poverty and oppression. Only if this is done democratically and at a local level can this be put into practice.