Poverty, the economy and the chancellor…

Ambrose picked up this story in the Guardian’s Society section yesterday which looked at the issue of child poverty in Northern Ireland – 8% of children are living in severe poverty. Of these, forty per cent “live in households where the gas, electricity or telephone have been cut off. Half live with a lone parent, while 27% have parents with health problems or disabilities”.Interestingly, Goretti Horgan sees the problems based in the trajectory of economic development policies:

“…the whole concept of a ‘renewed Northern Ireland’ is based on a low-pay economy. People further up the social ladder have done well out of the peace – the gap between rich and poor is higher than in the rest of Britain, and is widening. The reality is that ordinary people are working for wages much lower than the rest of the UK. Invest Northern Ireland – the body that promotes investment here – even boasts on its website about wages being 25% less than the rest of Europe.”

Also worth browsing is the UK Chancellor’s Child Poverty Review for this year. It sets out targets to halve relative child poverty by 2010, and eradicate it by 2020.

There’s a fascinating graphic in the Annex, which demonstrates some startling facts. For instance, couples in work are less at risk of generating child poverty (13%) than their single parent equivalents (18%). But in workless households the figures reverse, so that single parents are only 48%, whilst couples are at a staggering 71% risk!