Are the continual 'anti-poverty' policies pursued by governments of all colours actually delivering the opposite result?
This seems to be the question that Janet Daley asks in an excellent article in the Telegraph.
She points out that what many politicians and think tanks are asking for is the 'protection' of those in poverty in the same way that endangered species are preserved. You could argue that this is just semantics, but it does show how people look at the problem of poverty.
As a case in point she cites the Brown government's concept of 'lifting people out of poverty'. "There is an unmistakeable vision here of the hand of God, with the grateful masses gently cradled in its palm, raising the humble from their destitution" she says. Then points out that this was 'achieved' using a small increment in benefits that statistically nudged some poor people above a government set level. but this was compensated for by rises in other peoples' pay and tax so any advantage the poor may have gained was very quickly neutralised.
Janet Daley does make a distinction between those that truly need help and those that become entangled in the poverty trap where the state provides enough so as to make work unprofitable for them. "I realise that there are people whose life circumstances, through no or little fault of their own, have been so calamitous that they will require a great deal of help and charity (in the best sense of the word) to improve their condition. But that is all the more reason why dependence must not be treated as a lifestyle choice worthy of “protection”:"
She also rightfully lambasts the Equality and Human Rights Commission for claiming that the Budget could be in breach of the 2010 Equality Act for not ensuring 'social equality'. As she says, a finding in support of this would make it illegal to withdraw benefuts, which would make it virtually impossible to truly fight poverty.
An excellent and well thought out article.