30 April 2007

Labour's Poverty Legacy

Once again we have another report highlighting the scandal of poverty in Britain after ten years of Labour mismanagement, this time from the social policy research and development charity Joseph Rowntree Foundation. The charity's research shows that the rate of poverty among minority ethnic groups is double that found for the white majority (40% compared with 20%) and that minority ethnic groups are still being overlooked for jobs and being paid lower wages, despite improvements in education and qualifications.

On the Today programme this morning, Iain Duncan Smith highlighted the role that language and culture plays in preventing first generation immigrants from being able to integrate into society and noted that Government figures claiming success in getting these immigrants into jobs when they first arrive overlooks the facts that a great proportion of them are unable to hold down those jobs and find themselves unemployed within thirteen weeks. Although this clearly is a factor, the JRF research also shows that the poverty problem is not confined simply to first generation immigrants.

While there are clearly issues that need to be addressed if we are to tackle worklessness amongst ethnic minority communities, the wider scandal is that the number of people of any ethnic background living on less than 40% of average income has increased under Labour, and that fewer people are able to escape the poverty trap now than were able to a decade ago – that is, anyone born into poverty now is more likely to find themselves struggling with poverty as an adult than they would have done a decade ago.