PEOPLE in poverty are
being stigmatised by "myths and distortions" peddled by the media
and politicians, a report published this week by Church Action on
Poverty (CAP) argues.
The Blame Game Must
Stop: Challenging the stigmatisation of people experiencing
poverty, which draws on reports and research by a number of
organisations, says that "a constant stream of messages . . .
encourages distrust and an attitude of blame towards people on low
incomes". It says that "people increasingly feel ashamed, and
judged by others, if they are in poverty - particularly if they are
One of the "myths"
singled out by the report is the "false dichotomy between
'deserving poor' ('strivers', children, pensioners) and
'undeserving poor' ('shirkers', drug addicts, 'hoodies')", which
"creates the impression that all unemployed people are 'shirkers'".
The report quotes figures from the Office for National Statistics
which suggest that "70 per cent of unemployed people find work
again within a year, and fewer than one in five remain unemployed
for longer than 24 months."
Another perception the
report seeks to dispel is "the supposed existence of families
'where three generations have never worked'", which it says that
politicians often refer to. Research conducted by the Joseph
Rowntree Foundation last year "was unable to identify a single
example where this was actually the case", the report states.
recommendations include newspapers' making it clear, when reporting
examples of benefit fraud, "that they are not representative of the
whole population claiming benefits"; for politicians and
journalists no longer to use "abusive language" when referring to
people in poverty; and for news stories to "include case studies
and interviews which reflect real people's experiences of
The Bishop of Ripon &
Leeds, the Rt Revd John Packer, writes in a foreword to the report:
"The most vulnerable people in our society are increasingly being
used as scapegoats, and blamed for economic problems which are not
of their making. . . It is particularly important to challenge
these attitudes in the current economic climate when many more
people are struggling with unemployment and low income through no
fault of their own."
THE culture of worklessness -where generations in the
same family have never worked - is a fiction, new research
suggests, writes a staff reporter.
Insecurity: Life in low-pay, no-pay Britain, a study by the
Joseph Rowntree Foundation, found that two generations of complete
worklessness in the same family was rare - less than one per cent -
and that there was no evidence of the "culture of worklessness"
often spoken of by politicians.
that children in families where parents did not work were keen to
avoid the poverty and unemployment experienced by their parents,
and that their parents were also committed to helping them find
The reasons for
their parents' long-term unemployment were usually complex, and
included poor schooling, drug- and alcohol-use, domestic violence,
and physical and mental ill-health.
unemployment figures show that the UK has recorded its sharpest
monthly drop in unemployment, owing to a rise in jobs in the
Figures from the
Office for National Statistics showed that the number of jobless
fell by 86,000 to 2.51 million in the three months to October,
despite the weak economy.
employment was up by 65,000 to a record 23.9 million, while
public-sector employment was down by 24,000 to 5.7 million - its
lowest level since 2002.
For those in work, however, pay rises are not keeping
track with inflation, and employees are worse off in real terms
than before 2008.