The Joseph Rowntree Fund calls on Theresa May to curb poverty by 2030
As MPs return from summer recess, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has published a five-point plan to tackle the ‘social evil’ of poverty for the first generation of ‘Brexit children’ – those entering school in 2030.
Research by the JRF suggests poverty costs UK £78 billion a year, or £1,200 per person, and the equivalent to 4 per cent of GDP.
The foundation’s ‘long-term plan’ measures success as having less than ten per cent of the population in poverty at any one time, no-one in poverty for more than two years, and having no-one ever be completely destitute.
Here are the five key proposals:
- Boost incomes and cut costs. The best cure for poverty is people having more money. The JRF calls for ending the ‘poverty premium’ of the poor paying more for goods and services, and slashing housing costs with an extra £1 billion of annual investment to build 80,000 affordable homes to rent and buy each year.
- Fix our benefits system. Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms are a catastrophe. The JRT says we should ‘reboot’ Universal Credit to provide a strong safety net, and reform job centres to help people find secure, well-paid work, rather than just any old job.
- Better schools and skills. Children born into poverty who start school this week are well behind richer kids in terms of cognitive development. This gap can be seen as early as age three, and widens by age five. The JRF calls for doubling investment in education so five million more adults have basic literacy, numeracy and digital skills by 2030.
- Support families where they live. Poor families are more likely to fall apart and can’t provide their children the best start in life. The JRF wants a radical overhaul of the childcare system to boost life chances for these children and ‘make work pay’ for their parents, along with ‘family hubs’ in every area to support families.
- Train workers and let mayors create jobs. Theresa May says she wants an economy that works for everyone. The JRF calls on employers to train low-paid staff so they can land secure and well-paid jobs, and give mayors and town halls the ‘incentives, powers and budget’ to create good jobs and provide those in poverty with economic opportunities.
You can read more on the proposals here.
Julia Unwin, Chief Executive of the JRF, launching the strategy in Westminster today, said:
‘It’s shameful that in the 21st century, 13 million people in our wealthy country are living in poverty.’
She said efforts to tackle poverty have been ‘piecemeal’, and failed to address the high cost of living.
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‘Poverty divides communities and generations; it harms people’s potential and strains families; it drains the public purse and holds back our economy.
The Prime Minister has made a promise to make Britain work for everyone and reform capitalism. As Westminster reconvenes this week, I urge her to deliver on this promise.
If we don’t take action now, poverty is set to increase for children and working-age adults. Poverty is the biggest social evil of our time – we must act now.’