Letter: Causes and cures for poverty

Click to follow
Letter: Causes and cures for poverty

Sir: Not often does one read two articles in the same issue ("Let's just put an end to poverty" by Polly Toynbee and "Industrial decline is no horror story" by Diane Coyle, 28 August) where the themes are virtual cause and effect.

Deindustrialisation has caused loss of metal-bashing jobs which were the bread and butter of the unskilled and the semi-skilled. Now that these jobs have been lost to the service sector, which requires a higher degree of education and sophistication, there has been a knock-on effect on the social structure. There is increased reliance on welfare benefits. Since the incapacity benefit is far greater than job-seeker's allowance there is an increased demand to be off sick.

Once the sick role is confirmed there is increased demand to claim disability living allowances. Mental illness among the unemployed is much higher than in those gainfully employed. Their reliance on mood enhancing drugs, either prescribed or bought in the black market, is also increasing. To Polly Toynbee these are statistics, but to a working GP it is a day-to- day encounter with individuals.

Social dysfunction is not necessarily caused by lack of money. If it were, every genuinely poor society would be in complete chaos. By all means provide more money to solve the problem, but provide it in such a way that the individual is proud to be a responsible member of society, even if relatively poor compared with those who are better trained and are in better-paid jobs.