Letter: Tax and poverty

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The Independent Culture
Sir: It is a relief to read that the Fabian Society has a Commission on Taxation and Citizenship which intends to shift the debate about taxation off the Thatcherite terrain where taxation is a form of theft of income rightfully belonging to individuals("Tax and win, say Fabians", 1 September). That propaganda has resulted in the rich getting substantially richer and the poorest experiencing a real reduction in their incomes and life expectancy since about 1985.

The costs to the taxpayer of social dislocation, ill health and the decline in average reading standards, unexplained by teaching methods, in deprived areas of our cities is immense. An income which cannot provide an adequate diet is no platform for a good education.

The poor in the UK need more money. The question is how much is enough. The Commission should consider the adequacy of benefits and minimum income for the unemployed and low paid. This requires research which will carefully measure the cost of nutrition and diet, fuel, clothing and transport, recreation, social cohesion and inclusion, before housing costs, which need separate treatment. Policies for minimum incomes can be built which should never be reduced by any government policy, such as taxation.

In considering taxation and citizenship, measuring adequate minimum incomes should be the starting point for the Fabian Society commission.