Copyright Google 2018

We’d all most certainly prefer that poverty didn’t exist. However, we do then need to be careful over our definitions of said poverty. Something which all too many people shouting about it don’t. It’s possible to entirely trip over ones’ own definitions and end up saying something very silly indeed:

“Single parents [are] being pushed into self-employment, either by jobcentres or as a way to secure insecure work. We are seeing people increasingly self employed as contractors in retail, catering, caring – this is not an entrepreneurial choice, it’s a last resort,” said Dalia Ben-Galim, Gingerbread’s head of policy.

“The impact is pretty obvious. It cannot be right that in 2018 almost half of children from single parent families are living in poverty.”

The problem here being that, given the definition of poverty being used, we’d expect half or more of children in single parent families to be in poverty.

The definition being used here is under 60% of household median income means that the household, and all in it, are in that poverty. Maybe that’s a good target – we don’t think so, it’s a measure of inequality, not poverty – and maybe it isn’t but that’s what it is. The problem being that the median British household has two earners these days. We’d really rather expect single parent households to have lower incomes than median therefore, wouldn’t we?

In fact, this idea that single parent families are in poverty is largely a function of that manner in which we’ve defined poverty in the first place. It’s therefore, as long as we’re paying attention to what we’re saying, not a surprise at all.

Far from it not being right that children in single parent families are in poverty it’s exactly what we would expect.