The Guardian tells us that destitution is on the rise in the UK. This is not so – there is no one in the country, absent significant mental health or addiction issues, who is destitute. This sort of absolute poverty is a problem that we’ve solved. We solved it back by the late 1950s, just as Barbara Castle said we did.
But, you know, how exciting would it be if capitalism didn’t need to be overthrown because it sentences children to destitution?
Destitution on the rise, say frontline family support workers
Survey found three-quarters of professionals found increase in families in extreme poverty
But there’s more to it than just this. We’ve also got a Worstall’s Fallacy violation going on. For quite obviously the call is now that more must be done. But they’re not measuring what needs to be done at all. They’re measuring what would need to be done if it weren’t for what we already do. For example, the charity itself:
Buttle UK gave out £4.6m in individual targeted grants to UK families in poverty in 2017-18, supporting more than 35,000 children and young people. The grants pay for items such as fridges, washing machines, baby equipment, clothing and bedding. Its network of 10,000 frontline family support workers refers families for grants.
Good on them too. But their measurements are not of how many people remain in whatever level of poverty after these things are done. They’re measuring who would need help if it weren’t for the things we already do.
Applications for Buttle UK’s Chances for Children grants come from a unique network of frontline support workers who are interacting with the most vulnerable children and young people across the UK on a daily basis.
These individuals include family support workers, community project workers, social workers, health visitors, school careers advisors, probation officers, advocacy/advisors, youth workers, community nurses, tutors and head teachers. They work for organisations such as local authorities / councils, charities, housing associations, advice services, local healthcare trust partnerships, primary and secondary schools and children’s centres.
We seem to be doing quite a lot too.
We had a high response rate to this survey, with 1,290 individuals that work with
children and young people across the UK completing the questionnaire in total. We
obtained results from people working with vulnerable children and young people in
poverty across all regions in the UK, from 616 organisations. These organisations include
local authorities / councils, charities, housing associations, advice services, local
healthcare trust partnerships, primary and secondary schools and children’s centres. All
respondents work directly with children, young people and their familes in poverty in
roles such as family support workers, community project workers, social workers, health
visitors, school careers advisors, probation officers, advocacy/advisors, youth workers,
community nurses, tutors and head teachers.
Actually, we’ve an army out there dealing with these problems. Which is good, of course, no one wants children to go to bed hungry. But the important question is exactly the one not being asked here. How much more do we need to do?
Nope, not how much horror would there be if we didn’t do anything. Not even how much horror would there be if only the state worked on these problems. What we need to know to make any decision is how much of the problem is still left after all those things we already do? Which is, as above, the one thing they don’t tell us.