Letter: War on poverty

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Alistair Darling declares that poverty is not simply a matter of money and cites things like poor housing, poor health and low expectations as factors ("Campaign on poverty condemned as `vague' ", 22 September).

These surely are not the causes of poverty but rather the results of poverty. Poverty is precisely the lack of adequate funds. Training, decent housing and better health cost money. It is no coincidence that the higher up the income scale we climb, the better the housing and the better the health we encounter. We know this to be a fact and yet, somehow, governments of every description have always been afraid of acting upon it. This government is no different.

How can we expect people to raise their expectations through training and job opportunities when "decent" pay these days is considered by law to be less than pounds 4 an hour? When pay levels at the bottom end of the scale are being suppressed by a law that states that jobseeker's allowance is around pounds 52 a week? The whole raft of measures announced will only make a difference to the poor of this country if backed up by real investment of real money, as well as policies which will lift pay at the bottom end of the scale to levels where people can actually begin to live by working, rather than merely surviving.


Ely, Cambridgeshire