Letter: Taxation policy fails to halt child poverty

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The Independent Online
Sir: The Institute for Fiscal Studies report (9 February) provides important evidence on the effects of taxation policy, particularly as it affects families with children but no earners. Children living in households with no earners are much more prevalent than they were, partly because of the increases in unemployment.

There are also substantial local geographical variations, illustrated by figures for Sheffield. At the 1991 census there were about 1,500 children living in households with no earners in some inner-city wards compared with only 150 in the more affluent wards - a 10-fold difference. Unemployment has also increased by 15 per cent since the census, so the gap is probably even wider.

It would be very interesting - given the European Union Green Paper on Social Policy which is presently out for consultation - to put the extent of poverty among children in Britain into a European context.

It is also relevant to point to information recently published in Social Trends (a government publication), which shows that in 1991 the average household in the lowest fifth of the population for income had a gross income (including benefits) of pounds 5,460 and paid 38 per cent of this in direct and indirect tax. Households in the top fifth had an average income of pounds 38,110 but paid only 34 per cent of this in taxation. Such variations ought to be an issue of serious concern.

Yours sincerely,

DAVID SMITH

Principal Research Officer

Central Policy Unit

Sheffield City Council

Sheffield

9 February

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