I listened to an item on BBC Radio 4 “Today” this morning just before 7am concerning how government is allegedly failing those MILLIONS of British children are living “in poverty” All the cliches were trotted out and for good effect the couple that the BBC interviewed – Elvis and Alex – even had one partner working but alas Elvis was on minimum wage. At no point did the BBC explain that what is measured these days is “relative poverty” – a leftist invention in recent years to allow them to beg for even more lavish public funds to alleviate a non-existent problem. A figure of an extra 2.7bn was bandied about as if it were nothing during this item. You can understand why the Poverty Industry is attracted to the BBC to pump out its propaganda – undiscerning transmission of faux statistics is the name of the poverty game and Auntie plays along.

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  1. Jack Bauer says:

    ‘Relative poverty’ belongs in the dustbin, we should hear no more of it.

    Correct. I now use the term “relative chavity.”


  2. Gerald Brown says:

    In the report I believe we were told that the family of three had a weekly income of £250. The male was working full time on the minimum wage. Can somebody with a better knowledge than me take into account working families tax credit and child allowance payments and confirm that the answer is £250. Unfortunately because of the hugely regressive withdrawal of benefits for every extra £1 of income (I believe it may be as much as 80p)for those receiving substantial benefits (in cash and free services) the disincentive to work is large.


  3. BaggieJonathan says:

    Gerald Brown,

    Thank you I stand corrected – £13,000 ( £250 per week) not £12,000. It doesn’t change the relative poverty argument now does it.


  4. Gerald Brown says:


    Steady there. My comment was not aimed at your comment. I was trying to establish if the figure quoted by the BBC reporter was correct for the family in question. In my last sentance I should have perhaps said the disincentive to try to get off benefits is therefore large.


  5. gunnar says:


    Yes, you are right in the relative poverty definition as being 60% of the median income. If the median income rises then so those the 60% threshold.

    What is more important is

    a) the actual purchasing power of ones income and
    b)the underlying family income distribution

    in order to make sense of the relative poverty measure.

    In effect the median is simply the point that splits a distribution into equal number of observations if you like. If out of 100 people 51 were to earn up to £5 per hour and the other 49 more than £100 per hour the median wage would still be around £5.

    Wiki has a good example:

    So what it is imporant to look at the distribution of income. If the distribution is widely dispersed, than more people would fall in the 60% bracket compared to a tight income distribution.


  6. Ron Todd says:

    Colin Chase:

    ‘I hope he didn’t do any job requiring attention to detail. Or judgement. Or eyesight.’

    He did and since it is a while since we had a famine in this country I will acceot his judgement.


  7. BaggieJonathan says:


    So if the median was a million pounds those on half a million would be in poverty!

    Or if everyone was on a pound only those on less than 60p would be in poverty!

    Total utter joke.

    Time to end the concept of relative poverty.


  8. BaggieJonathan says:

    I add that I have personally been involved with charity for the poor in the UK and in action for those in poverty in the world, I do not come at this from ignorance or an ivory tower and probably have done a lot more than most.

    Anyone who has done so would agree that of course there is poverty in the UK, but not at the level suggested as just having less than someone else in no definition of poverty.

    Poverty has to be about dealing with the lack of the necessities of life that all too many have to deal with.

    Many of those working at the sharp end will tell you that we get worked up by this relativist brigade taking away from genuine need and work for poverty.

    And it was the relativists that included such things as the lack of a playstation, though it does make for a good headline.

    And dismissing the real poverty of much of the third world where so many are on the verge of starvation and whole countries (yes including Malawi that I have had much personal experince in raising money and helping with action for) have an average income per person per year that we have as an average per day.

    And yes this is a rant, it winds me up that poverty can be taken so flippantly when it is a worldwide disgrace and there is so much genuine need.


  9. Jack Hughes says:

    I read once that in Holland they have a different measure. A panel meets every year and finds out how much it really costs to keep body and soul together. How much is rent, heating in winter, food, clothes – some second-hand, an allowance for furniture. Sounds much better as an objective measure.


  10. Anonymous says:

    Terry Hamblin | 10.06.08 – 7:11 pm

    I’m still shocked by the discovery that 50% of people have a below average IQ.

    They don’t.

    In a normal distribution the largest group is dead on the mean. So fewer than 50% score less (and more) than 100.


  11. As I Please says:

    There is no absolute poverty in this country as there is in Africa, India etc. Relative poverty is a meaningless concept, because if Bill Gates, for example, moved to the UK, the number of ‘poor’ people would actually RISE due to the skewing of the average.

    The only ‘poverty’ we have in the UK is poverty of civilized values, caused by decades of socialist meddling in education, culture, social policy and the law.