They Can’t Hide The Scandal Of Poverty

It’s 20 years since Tony Blair spoke of the need to tackle ‘social exclusion’ but the latest research shows it is as bad as ever, says STEVEN WALKER


Remember the buzz phrase of the 1990s – social exclusion? It was part of the political narrative 20 years ago when politicians were talking about dealing with the causes rather than the symptoms of crime and anti-social behaviour.

Fine words flowed from the mouth of Tony Blair at his earnest best, looking and sounding the part of a reforming Labour Party leader.

Social exclusion referred to those in society who were marginalised, separate and stuck in a poverty
trap unable to reach any of their aspirations.

The Blairite approach tended to see the excluded as the problem, rather than linking poverty directly to the structural inequalities in our capitalist society.

The latest report by the Poverty and Social Exclusion (PSE) in the UK project is one of the most authoritative and comprehensive pieces of research in recent years.

It demonstrates how those fine words 20 years ago failed to do anything about tackling poverty.

It is one of a series of reports conducted by a variety of academic institutions, government research bodies and charitable groups which work to provide evidence of the hardships endured by millions of British and Northern Irish citizens.

Put together they form a powerful indictment of government policies and the underlying capitalist economic model that is based on the concept of creating unemployment and enriching a minority of individuals.

The PSE project is the largest research project of its kind ever carried out in Britain and Northern Ireland. The results provide the most detailed and comprehensive picture of poverty and exclusion in these isles in the 21st century.

According to the study, 33 per cent of households endure below-par living standards – defined as going without three or more “basic necessities of life,” such as being able to adequately feed and clothe themselves and their children, and to heat and insure their homes. In the early 1980s, the comparable figure was 14 per cent.

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