No end to poverty
Sir: As the spouse of the vicar of the most deprived parish in the Diocese of Coventry and as a former associate director of Oxfam, I am in a position to give an audit of the Government's claims in its Annual Report (27 July).
Since the Government came to power, conditions for the 8,000 people who live here have continued to deteriorate. Less than half the households in the parish have anyone in work. Most of the 3,500 children under 16 have never seen their parents or grandparents in work.
The educational system fails them despite teachers' efforts. Education (or crime) is the only way out of this level of deprivation.
People here die 10 years younger than in the rest of the country. Our social services department has had a massive cut.
Our police do not have the resources to combat crime. Officers are hamstrung by not having secure communications; our local criminal element listen to police communications and plan their activities around what they hear. Drugs are sold openly.
Our housing stock is deteriorating and the environment in which we live is a disgrace to a civilised country.
It seems to us that we matter less than the middle-class taxpayer. I know it will take a man of stature to expend resources on eradicating poverty. When my wife and I voted for Tony Blair, we thought we had found that man. We were wrong. This government, for all the spin, is little different in its performance from the last.