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Rethinking poverty

November 4th 2014

‘Tackling poverty’ has a very high political priority in Wales, said to be ‘number one’ by the First Minister and other Ministers alike.  With the number of people in poverty set to rise, this commitment is very welcome.

Purse and money 600

But behind the commitment is a vagueness about what the ‘poverty’ problem really is. Sometimes it is seen as low income, other times in terms of deprivation or social exclusion, and occasionally it is associated with individual characteristics and behaviours.  This lack of clarity makes targeted, evidence-based policy making difficult – if you don’t know what problem you are trying to solve, how can you solve it?

 

 

 

The paper argues that public policy in Wales needs to be clear what it means by poverty. And while the 60% median income is a useful measure, it is too blunt a tool to inform Wales’s actions to ‘tackle poverty’.  Instead it suggests that an approach based on resources and needs is more useful.

Income is a very important aspect of individual and household resources, and, the authors suggest, public policy should explicitly adopt strategies to raise incomes, including the Living Wage.  But income isn’t the only important resource – whether households have a home, can keep warm and have enough to eat also matter, and the authors suggest that these should be important areas of a future anti-poverty plan. And last, but not least, individuals need the necessary skills to manage their everyday lives, so literacy and numeracy, digital skills and financial capability are key areas.

Authors: Victoria Winckler with Michael Trickey

Pages: 20pp

Format: PDF (1mb)

Language: English

Cost: Free to download

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