Letter: Work and morals

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The Independent Online
Sir: While supporting the "big idea" of the present government that everybody should be given the opportunity to be employed rather than receive benefits, may I promote the balancing policy of a minimum income necessary for healthy living. This should also join the ranks of "big ideas".

The poorest 10 per cent in the United Kingdom are dying younger than they were. The reasons given have been stress and inadequate diet and health care. There has been no improvement in their life span since the 1920s. The rest of us are living longer.

There is a minimum income needed for a pregnant woman which will provide adequate nutrition for her and her unborn child. Failure to provide such an income in social benefits to the poorest families sets up a time bomb of physical and mental inadequacy which runs on through the generations.

Single parents, two-parent families, teenagers, pensioners and others need appropriate minimum incomes sufficient to ensure that nutrition is not diminished because of the needs for warmth, clothing, transport and other necessities.

Governments are, however, flying blind. They increase or reduce benefits and pensions, propose a minimum income, with no idea, big or little, of the weekly incomes needed for healthy living and an improved expectation of life for the poorest.

The Rev PAUL NICOLSON

Chairman

Zeccheaus 2000 Trust

Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire

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