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Saturday, December 10, 2016
Agency says government child poverty initiative is 'woefully inadequate'
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¬†Following last week's breakfast meeting, organised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with Church leaders to publicise the End Child Poverty Coalition, Jim Richards, Director of the Catholic Children's Society (Westminster) commented: "it has laudable ends but to date, the means to see such poverty eliminated appear to be woefully inadequate to the task. "This task is a huge one. An estimated 3.5 million children in the UK still live in poverty. We have at a third, the highest proportion of children in poverty in Western Europe, in contrast to Sweden's five per cent". Mr Richards said: "the gap between the rich and poor is also the widest in Western Europe. Meanwhile at the wealthiest end of the income scale, we see the UK's top company executives receiving rises averaging 29 per cent over the last two years and being paid £100,000 more each year than their European equivalents". Jim Richards explained that Gordon Brown's key instrument for alleviating the problem is via tax credits for those in work but, he said, as the Catholic Bishops' of England and Wales admirable document "The Common Good" stated, the Church "does not regard State Welfare provision as a desirable substitute for payment of a just wage." - "Which also raises the question as to how long the taxpayer should subsidise those employers who are passing off their responsibilities to the State." He went on to say: "The UK has reached the point where the Common Good is being undermined with groups marginalised by their poverty who do not have the means to take part in the life of the wider community". He concluded: "This situation matters in all sorts of ways. We know that countries with wide inequalities, experience worse health outcomes for the poor, than in those countries were the gap is narrow. This is shown in our infant death rates, where the UK has 5.8 infant deaths for every 1,000 live births. In the EU only Greece has a poorer record. In this regard we are slipping back. In 1960 we had, commendably, the fifth lowest death rate. The Chancellor hopes to abolish child poverty within 20 years. He will need far more radical policies than the present ones to achieve even this somewhat unambitious target.
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