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Poor are scapegoated, says report

01 March 2013

by a staff reporter

A REPORT by a coalition of Churches has accused the Government of peddling "myths" and manipulating data to scapegoat the poorest families in Britain.

The report, The Lies We Tell Ourselves, challenges ideas about poverty that, it says, are spread by the Government and some sections of the media. About 13 million people live in poverty in the UK.

The report, from Churches whose total membership is more than one million, says that statistics have been manipulated by politicians and the media to support a comfortable but dangerous story: that the poor deserve the cuts that they are facing.

It says: "This report, produced by the Baptist Union, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church, and the United Reformed Church is intended to lay bare some of the myths about the poor."

The Prime Minister and other senior ministers have, it says, scapegoated the poorest 120,000 families in Britain, labelled them as "troubled", and blamed them for a "large proportion of the problems in society".

Researchers said that the common factor in the 120,000 families was not criminality or addiction, but the mother's mental-health problems, and that the figures used by the Government were "statistically flawed and highly misleading".

Other "myths" about poverty that the report says it exposes include the suggestion that child poverty is due to parents' not wanting to work. In fact, researchers found, "in-work poverty is now more common than out-of-work poverty."

Addiction to drink or drugs affects four per cent of families claiming benefits, and benefit is at historically low levels, the researchers say.

The report is being sent to every MP in the UK, and every Member of the Scottish Parliament.

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