Friday, 3 April 2015

Child Poverty in Enfield

The news from the End Child Poverty campaign that almost half of the children in Edmonton are living in poverty should be a source of shame to all the parties of government.

David Holmes, Chair of the End Child Poverty Campaign, has challenged all politicians to "set out a clear roadmap towards ending child poverty which includes the additional actions needed". The other Green candidates for Enfield are happy to do just that. Unlike other parties our plans are based on research and an absolute determination not to leave people in poverty. This policy is not a "nice to have".

Since much poverty is the poverty of the working poor we would raise the minimum wage to the London Living Wage (currently £8.80/hour) immediately and to £10/hour by 2020.

Since it is inequality, not just poverty, that makes the health and well-being of the poor worse than those of the rich we would reduce inequality by outlawing excessive pay. We would pay particular attention to the financial sector where vast bonuses seem to be the result of a defective moral compass! Green MEPs have already taken the lead in capping bankers' bonuses.

The benefits system has become a machine, a complex and expensive machine, more for punishing claimants than for finding jobs. We would abolish the 'presumption of guilt' that guides its staff and simplify benefits. We would abolish the bedroom tax. In the medium term we would replace most benefits with a Universal Citizens Income that would be more generous and much cheaper to operate.

The fact that, as the report shows, housing costs push 14% of Edmonton children into poverty confirms the need for lower rents and property prices. The key to this is more homes. We would make it easier for Councils to build council houses and flats. We would take active steps to bring empty homes into use and to build on land being hoarded by developers. We would also support measures to improve home insulation for both comfort and to reduce energy bills.

These policies would, of course, be part of a wider Green agenda to provide all our citizens with decent lives and livelihoods without trashing the planet. It will be hard - but nothing less will do.

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