I have to give it to David Cameron and the Conservatives. In an occasion rare to politics, they are about to make what I would define as political history. Not only are they moments away from sticking to a pledged promise given to the British people in the run-up to this year’s election (a rarity on all fronts) but they are about to do it in the most efficient, effortless style.
Child poverty in Britain is a modern-day social crisis that sees more than 2.3 million children live below the poverty line – a statistic that has led many teachers to compare the current situation to Victorian Britain. Awkwardly challenging George Osborne’s glorified concept of post-recession Britain and the path of victorious financial success he is carving for the future (as well as the more serious problem of, well you know, children living in unprecedented levels of destitution and hopelessness) the crisis is respectively on the forefront of the Tories ‘To-Do’ list.
The complete elimination of child poverty has been a government aim set for 2020. But thanks to the brainwaves of senior Conservative peers like Ian Duncan Smith and George Osborne (people of Britain, we really do get our money’s worth) they’ve ingeniously reduced it, if not pretty much solved it, overnight. However, not necessarily in the sense we would have hoped for.
In the new programme set out by the Work and Pensions Secretary, Ian Duncan Smith, the definitions and expectations that surrounded the Child Poverty Act of 2010 have been repelled. Instead of solely basing child poverty on the conventional, and usually accurate, method of household income – below 60 per cent of the national median – he has introduced ‘a range of other measures and indicators of root causes of poverty, including family breakdown, debt and addiction‘. All of the above, of course, can happen to any family, on any income, in any social class bracket – money doesn’t buy happiness remember.
But what it does buy is the right to a stable and healthy education, the right to not go hungry, to join in activities with fellow children, the right to a coat in winter, new school uniform in the summer and soled shoes all year round. Their efforts to tackle a painfully ignored issue of the past, which violently manifests itself in the present and will certainly dominate the future, have unapologetically steered off the normal path of empathy and a genuine concern for change. They have instead, diverted, creating a solution to the problem by turning a blind eye to it as a problem in the first place.
But we can of course all play that game. When applied to the glorious, post-recession path Britain has carved (sorry, am I repeating myself? Seems like we can’t escape that misinformed concept nowadays) the Tory Party’s shining employment statistics become less satisfactory. For instance, one must of course take on board other measures and indicators at the root cause of employment, including zero-hour contracts, the rarely paid living wage and the inability for a working parent to put food on the table. Not so shiny anymore.
This new beat-around-the-bush method being played by the Tory Number Wizards is inherently flawed. It will make it frustratingly unclear what constitutes as poverty, in turn reducing official poverty numbers, whilst simultaneously diverting attention away from the latest tax-credit welfare cuts that will induce further impoverishment.
Confused yet? Me too and that’s precisely the point. Favouring this newly defined process drowns the truth in a heavy waterfall of ambiguity, leaving the vulnerable children at the bottom with little chance to come up for air.
So there it is. A swift, efficient, three-birds-one-stone mastermind technique that reduces one of Britain’s many inescapable and endlessly unaddressed problems. Problems that leave me wondering whether maybe the prevailing issue of our society doesn’t lie in the millions of children currently suffering from, and those about to be further plunged into, poverty – but in the lame, embarrassing and half-hearted attempts our government has made in order to (apparently) eradicate it.