Letter: No work, no pay

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The Working Families Tax Credit may, as Gordon Brown hopes, "help to make work pay" . If it does, it is to that extent welcome. However, it falls far short of a pledge to "tackle the causes of poverty".

The Government mistakenly supposes that the problem of poverty is one of making work more attractive. In large areas of the country, for those who lose a job over the age of 45, and for young black men, it is no use making work more attractive because there is not enough work to go round. The Government cannot fight poverty until there are more jobs.

In a flexible labour market there will always be people who have to live on benefit, and we cannot tackle poverty without addressing benefit levels, which the Acheson report has found to be too low to be compatible with good health. The worst poverty of all is probably among the large number of people who have been dis-entitled to means-tested benefits. The Government is not even willing to commission research to discover the extent of this poverty. It does not want to know. Until the Government has answered these problems it cannot claim to be tackling the causes of poverty.

Earl RUSSELL

DAVID RENDEL MP

Liberal Democrat Social Security Spokesmen

House of Commons

London SW1

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