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Child Poverty


Quillan

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You know when you hear something and it sticks in your mind and keeps going round and round and you just can't get it out of your mind, well.............

I watched Children in Need last Friday (and yes I made a donation). One of the things they kept saying was that there are over 4M children in poverty. I was thinking that I was sure that was around the figure when Blair came to power in 1997 and that he said he was going to half it by 2010 (and we are not that far off now) and eliminate it by 2020 . So anyway I did a little searching and discovered that indeed there were around 4.5M children in poverty around that time (here). I then searched to find out how many there were today, just to collaborate the BBC figure and found that there are, according to End Child Poverty, still around 4M.

Likewise I found an old Guardian article from June 2008 which states that back in1998/9 the figure was actually, according to government sources 3.4M and in June 2008 was 2.9M. Clearly it seems to me nobody actually can give a clear figure, perhaps nobody cares.

You see where I am coming from is that here is yet another extremely vulnerable group that TB promised to help but hasn't and whilst I don't think there should be a need for such an event as Children in Need there clearly is. A real shameful thing were the young kids who are officially helpers to either their parent(s) or siblings. Now to my mind I always thought it was illegal for children under 14 to work so how comes the law allows this to happen (you can't tell me washing people, cloths, cooking etc isn't work, ask my wife, ask anyone's wife)? How can any government spend billions on illegal wars, commit billions to new train lines etc when this sort of thing is happening. When will any government get their priorities right and protect these children?

I also started to read about pensioners living in poverty but I won't even go there its just too distressing but I can say there are about the same about of pensioners as children living in poverty.

As a final thought after reading that lot, in 2008 the UK was the fifth richest country in the world according to the Guardian.

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Quillon...These figures have baffled me for years ... Can sombody tell me when a child is living in povety ? ...I have been sent to homes to see if there is anything my community service club can do to assist families who cant meet bills for gas . electricty. play groups or are in need of a holiday as living under stress .According to Social Services these families are living inpovety.and are ones included in the statistics. I have found them paying SKY subscriptions, smoking .and running cars many of them.. They have a social worker seeks financial help for them and they write to us , and as always its the kids you feel sorry for .

There are those who who are in real trouble who I would say were living in povety and they deserve and get help.like the homeless .How do they decide who is living in povety and who is not.?
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I understood that the definition of living in poverty was being in a family where the income is below the national average. So the standard varies from one nation to another and the UK "poor" are rich compared to the "poor" in eg Somalia. And it varies from time to time also.

And by definition there are always going to be as many below average as above average.

By the way by that definition we are poor, though we weren't when we were both working.  And possibly aren't by France's standard.

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The definition of child poverty is anyone under 18 years living in poverty.

The definition of poverty in the UK is as Fredrick says a bit of an unknown. Although I have read one or two sources for a definitive answer there does not appear to be one. The most common denominator between the sources is something called HBAI (Households Below Average Income) which is £312* per week after 'housing costs' (I can't find a definition for housing costs i.e. what are they made up of). You also have to take in to account the NMW (National Minimum Wage) which is £258* per week apparently (which is considered a poverty wage) and then all the calculations start to come apart (source) and don't make sense. So if you have a family with two working on minimum wage then you are not in poverty but if you only have one income you are.

* As of May 2009

The biggest problem I have is trying to get a definition of UK housing costs, there simply does not appear to be one. The American dictionary version says its rent or mortgage plus utility bills. Having warned people about assumption in the past should we assume its the same?

Just to add that the basic UK state pension for a single person is £90.70 therefore is it true to say that all single pensioners live well below the official government poverty line?

 

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"Poverty" in this case is Relative Poverty, totally different from Absolute Poverty, associated with developng countries. The UK defines that as 60% of median income (not average). That is a very high level to set the bar.

It has nothing to do with assets, or outgoings. If you earn below 60% of the median, you are officially poor, no amount of saving on the Sky, PSP3, and fags will change that

 

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But if you give these families additional financial support will they spend it on their children's education, clean clothes, fresh fruit and vegetables etc.?

What children need is love, time with their parents and good role models. You can provide all of these even if you fall below the poverty line.
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[quote user="velcorin"]

"Poverty" in this case is Relative Poverty, totally different from Absolute Poverty, associated with developing countries. The UK defines that as 60% of median income (not average). That is a very high level to set the bar.

[/quote]

Help, I don't know what median income means. I looked it up but the description was about as clear as mud to me. Therefore could somebody give me a simple, perhaps by example, explanation. I must have my thicko head on today.[:$]

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[quote user="Celine"]But if you give these families additional financial support will they spend it on their children's education, clean clothes, fresh fruit and vegetables etc.? What children need is love, time with their parents and good role models. You can provide all of these even if you fall below the poverty line.[/quote]

I understand what you mean but the way I 'read' it was that it's not just about actual money although unfortunately love may feed the heart but not the stomach, its about children not getting the things they should.

An example perhaps is the children that attend school but then spend the rest of their time being 'carers' for their parents or siblings. One short film I saw was about a 13 year old girl who did exactly that. Her poverty is that she does not have a childhood if you see what I mean. Surely the state should be supplying the help her parent(s) require if they are ill or are incapacitated in some way. It's just a form of illegal child labour sanctioned by the state (because they do nothing to help the child carer) and better still its free to the government thus keeping public expenditure down. Basically saving money to finance some other hair brain scheme at the expense of the child. Why is it up to charities to supply respite care for these kids dependants and give the kids holidays, the government should be doing this. It just seems very wrong to me.

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Why is it up to charities to supply respite care for these kids dependants and give the kids holidays, the government should be doing this. It just seems very wrong to me.

This I would love to see but after sending families to a holiday home we have that has been designed for the disabled . And been doing it for 10 years I am still waiting to see them take it on... hell and freezing comes to mind !
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Are you (Quillan) advocating the end of charitable efforts, all to be taken over by the "government"?

I think it would be a very sad day if things come to this, the abnegation of personal responsibility for our neighbour's welfare.

Anyway where does the government get the money from for such help? From us, the tax payers.

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I'm absolutely with you on this one Quillan, for children who are carers; I think it shames UK and us. I'm a little more wary on the cash poverty front though, but I don't know what can be done about it. I worked closely for many years with families in that position. Most got every benefit that was rightly due to them and other help from charities etc, plus extra help and gifts at Christmas, and when household goods etc were needed; not ideal, but it meant they could usually get what they needed. However many spent a lot of their cash on smoking, drinking, TVs (several), Sky and other entertainment and products. This is not a 'Daily Mail' type rant, this is what I experienced over many years, with families I got to know well.

Their children generally were poorly dressed, particularly in winter, didn't have breakfast, had free school meals, and maybe bread and jam if they were lucky, for their other meal. In fact we set up a 'breakfast club' for a large group of children, as I knew they were hungry and couldn't begin to learn without proper food to start the day. The children had no support for their learning, not even an adult to hear them read or help with spellings etc; they were so far behind when they came to me at seven years old that any progress was very slow compared to their peers. But they lapped up attention and were keen to please and make progress.

I don't know what can be done about children in this situation. Who is meant to tell parents how to care for their children, to spend money on food and clothing for them, not on fripperies? Many of theparents I'm talking about couldn't read well, had never had employment, wanted what their neighbours had, had children when very young. I feel they as well as their children had been let down, as they didn't know any better. I hoped the children I worked with would be able to make better choices as they grew up.

I saw a little of the above in the midlands, but there seemed to be more community support there, and the council even took families to a residential home and they were taught how to cook simple meals, do the washing etc. Most of what I've mentioned took place in what is regarded as the posh county of Berkshire, and still continues.

GG 

 

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[quote user="Patf"]

Are you (Quillan) advocating the end of charitable efforts, all to be taken over by the "government"?

[/quote]

No I am not advocating the end of all charities.

There are some things however that the state are responsible for but choose to do nothing and child carers are one area.

[quote user="Patf"]

Anyway where does the government get the money from for such help? From us, the tax payers.

[/quote]

Exactly and its clear (to me anyway) that making a statement to half and then eliminate child poverty and then not have any effect with the money already collected by tax's etc is just not on. It's the same old thing and no different to what other political parties do, tell people what they want to hear then do nothing.

There are respite homes around but not in any quantity and they are difficult to get people in to. I know this because my father would go in to respite to give my mother a break. One of the problems I can imagine is that if you put the parent in to respite care what do you do with the 13 year old carer after all they can't legally be left at home on their own.

If you want to get a better idea of what I am talking about and the effects it has on these young people then I have provided a couple of links below.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation

The Princess Royal Trust for Carers

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Quick maths lesson for Quillan[:D] Or alternatively "how to fiddle statistics to prove whatever point you want to make" [:D]

There are 3 types of Average. Mean, Median and Mode

Mean is what most people would understand as "average". Add up each item, and divide by the number of items. This can be skewed by a number of very high, or very low items, or your sample is small. Pretty useless really.

Mode is the most common item. Simple. My personal favouite, as it reflects the "real world".

Median is the middle value. If you have 9 items, rank them, and you simply take the 5th item. So, if you set the poverty level at 60% of figure, unless everyone earns exactly the same amount, you will ALWAYS have a significant number of people in poverty. I suppose depending on what political point you want to make this could be useful.

Let us take a real life example, like "average" UK earnings. The Mean is heavily skewed upwards, by the Abramovichs and Mittels of the world. The Median is skewed upwards as most people work. The Median is what what the most number of people earn, which is GBP22K. However, I do it myself, depending on what I want my presentation to tell the senior management, I will pick the "average" which tells that story I want. I've got the raw data, they haven't [:D]

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I think Gardengirl has this right. The problem is often down to lifestyle choices rather than just plain money. Having grown up in a very poor family myself I assumed that I would be able to understand the pupils in the school I taught at where there were many poor children. In reality there was often little resemblance between their upbringing and mine. My family sat down to meals together and were expected to be able to use cutlery properly and say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and generally behave ourselves. We kissed each other goodnight when it was our time to go to bed and our parents often read, recited or sang to us and they saw doing well at school as the key to future success.

When I started teaching all the pupils studied Home Economics and we used to have short Friday afternoon courses on subjects such as child-rearing, home maintenance and managing finances. These things were swept away when Mrs Thatcher decided that they should only be taught things which helped their employment prospects and with the introduction of the National Curriculum and league tables. I think that the re-introduction of such courses would go a long way towards improving the present situation.

Hoddy
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[quote user="Clarkkent"][quote user="velcorin"]

There are 3 types of Average. Mean, Median and Mode

 The Median is what what the most number of people earn, which is GBP22K. [/quote]

I think that you mean mode.

[/quote]

Absolutely correct. Lesson learnt, don't rush. Lunchtime now, so can take my leisure for the next 10-15 minutes.

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[quote user="Cathy"][quote user="Frederick"]Why is it up to charities to supply respite care for these kids dependants and give the kids holidays, the government should be doing this. [/quote]

The voluntary sector do a better job than the state sector.

[/quote]

I would like to think so Cathy ..but after 25 years of doing it the numbers dont dont seem to be going down .
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Now that we agree what the median is how on earth can it be used to show poverty?

If the highest earner is on say £50 million per year and the lowest on minimum wage say £10 grand per year then surely the median or poverty level is £24995000 per year? [6]

If we use the minimum wage given as the poverty level then I have been living comfortably for many years on considerably less than that but then I dont smoke, dont have mobile phone or Sky bills to pay, no portable computer etc so perhaps I am really living in poverty [:-))]

So if any of you are feeling sorry and want to make a donation please dont send sim cards, sky cards or fags but a laptop would not be turned away [6]

Editted. I am pretty sure that the arithmetic median is as I recall but perhaps they use the highest figure on a distribution curve and plus/minus one standard deviation for the mode, which woud make it the mode a from to figure which  doesnt seem right either.

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I think Chancer that this why many of the organisations involved in poverty use the HBAI figure which I quoted earlier on. So basically they are looking at the income left over once you have paid your mortgage/rent, electricity, gas, water and any tax commitments like Council Tax etc. This does NOT include mobile phones, Sky subscriptions which are classed as luxuries. One can deduce from this that if you have less than £312 a week left over after only paying the basics listed above to feed and cloth your family (based on two adults and two children) you are in poverty. The other way of calculating, as you have pointed out, is rather silly for the purposes of this excersise.

As for your 'edit' I am sure you are right if only I could understand what you are saying. [;-)]

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[quote user="Chancer"]

Now that we agree what the median is how on earth can it be used to show poverty?

If the highest earner is on say £50 million per year and the lowest on minimum wage say £10 grand per year then surely the median or poverty level is £24995000 per year? [6]

...

Editted. I am pretty sure that the arithmetic median is as I recall but perhaps they use the highest figure on a distribution curve and plus/minus one standard deviation for the mode, which woud make it the mode a from to figure which  doesnt seem right either.

[/quote]

There is no such thing as the arithmetic median - the median can only be identified not calculated. I think that you are recalling that if there is a normal distribution then mean, mode and median coincide.

The median is identified by listing all incomes in the population in rising order of income. If there are 10,000,000 scores in the distribution the median will be the income value which lies between score number 5,000,000 and score number 5,000,001. Depending on your method of collecting the data, you could identify the scores in bands rather than actual values - say, up to £5,000, £5001- £10,000, £10,001 - £15,000, and so on.

This will produce a frequency distribution.

If the frequency distribution is converted into a cumulative frequency chart with percentage cumulative frequency along the y-axis  and measured value along the x-axis it will produce a s-shaped line (called an ogive). Identifying the point at which the curve meets the 50% level and dropping to the x-axis will give an appropximation of the median.

If the poverty level is defined as the point at 60% of the median, then a similar exercise at the 30% level will give you the point below which "poverty" exists.

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[quote user="Russethouse"] Are you sure ? There have been times when I had less than a third of that and I certainly didn't feel poverty stricken and wasn't the worst off of my friends by a reasonable margin.[/quote]

Thats from May of 2009, the figure drops by between 2 and 4% (avg) per year the further back you go. You can, if you have the inclination, work it out from this report, your need a calculator.

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[quote user="Quillan"]

I think Chancer that this why many of the organisations involved in poverty use the HBAI figure which I quoted earlier on. So basically they are looking at the income left over once you have paid your mortgage/rent, electricity, gas, water and any tax commitments like Council Tax etc. This does NOT include mobile phones, Sky subscriptions which are classed as luxuries. One can deduce from this that if you have less than £312 a week left over after only paying the basics listed above to feed and cloth your family (based on two adults and two children) you are in poverty. [/quote]

I have just compared my budget to the figures above, this year has ben the first time in my life that I have done one as I have always had the ability to spend up to but no more than what comes in.

I am currently living on a tiny bit over a third of that figure, OK I dont have the wife and two kids to shell out on but neither do I get the economies of scale of cooking for 4 etc.

Anyway despite losing over a half of my income I still live very well by my standards and whilst not putting money into savings I still manage to buy a significant amount of my renovation materials out of what is coming in.

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