Child poverty figures lack credibility

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CONCERNING the new research released by the Campaign to End Child Poverty and reported in the News Letter, it should be noted that the statistics produced lack credibility in two regards.

Firstly, the measure of poverty used (households below 60 per cent UK median income) is a measure of the distribution of income, not poverty. By this measure of poverty, if the income of all households were increased (or decreased) by an equal per cent, the level of poverty would remain unchanged.

Commonsense would disagree. Indeed if the income of the lowest 10 per cent of households were reduced by say, £20 per week, by this measure poverty would actually decrease as the median income would decrease and with it the number of households below 60 per cent of that level. This is plainly nonsense.

Secondly, the measure of poverty used refers to UK median household income, ignoring regional variations. Therefore, unsurprisingly, the lower income areas of the UK appear relatively worse while the higher income areas appear immune from poverty. Not so. Given the high cost of housing in the south east, poverty bites just as hard there as in the north east or here in Northern Ireland.

Poverty is a curse. It’s corrosive effects undermine the lives of individuals, families and communities. Fighting it is important. In view of the volume of hot air on this subject generated by the government, the Campaign to End Child Poverty et al, it is a pity they have never got around to producing accurate numbers. It seems statistical convenience outweighs accuracy.

Alan Russell

By email