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Seems very weird


More than a million people are expected to be pushed into poverty this winter.

Seems a bit odd. Recessions compress the income distribution. Given that we measure poverty in relative terms this means that recessions reduce poverty. I know, I know, mad, but that’s the system that is in use. So, where’s Ms Malik got her information from?

The Legatum Institute, led by the Conservative peer and former government adviser Philippa Stroud, estimated that even if the energy price cap was held at its summer rate of £1,971, another 1.3 million people would slide below the relative poverty line compared with pre-pandemic rates.

But the relative poverty rate doesn’t include energy prices. It’s below 60% of median household income, adjusted for household size, either before or after housing costs.

So, what’s going on here? Legatum has invented its own poverty measure. And that’s it really. Made up out of whole cloth. And given that adviser, Conservative peer thing, what more proof do we need that we need an Augean cleanout?

9 thoughts on “Seems very weird”

  1. Those of us who can remember living under the wonderful Attlee government (or visited Eastern Europe last century) don’t believe that any of these people know what poverty actually means.
    However the Social Metrics Commission’s idea of looking at income after core living costs does seem a better way of looking at how relatively well-off people are (aka “relative poverty”).

  2. I remember the ’70s with no central heating at home, binging the coal in and making up the fire, and no heating at school and proper snow. We had jumpers.

  3. @jgh,

    My mother had a several knitting machines, one after the other, and always knitted my jumpers. I lusted after those elegant, shop-bought, vee-necked jumpers other kids had. When I grew up and left home, bought my own clothes, I discovered what it was like to be cold!

    After finding a half-cockroach in a loaf from the next-door baker, my mother also made her own bread. When my father retired, and my mother grew frail, he kneaded the dough. I lusted after those tidy. “Mother’s Pride” sandwiches the other kids had. When I grew up and left home, I discovered that such things were not only tasteless, but also had zero nutritional value!

  4. Excavator Man, my mum sold Knitmaster knitting machines for over twenty years. Demonstrated them to loads of people, including the King and Queen of Tonga, sold them to, amongst others, Beefeaters in the Tower Of London (well, their wives I guess), she made dresses and knitwear worn by Twiggy and Roger Moore (I don’t think Roger wore any of the dresses……) and met the original Hairy Monster Dave Lee Travis when he opened a knitting shop in Romford (after which he forgot where he’d parked his Ferrari and had to get a BBC lackey to trawl around the multi storey car parks to find it). We were inside Olympia when the IRA set off a bomb by the Guinness stand in 1976…… Happy days.

  5. @ jgh
    Almost all of that was normal in my youth – the exception being noticing the absence of central heating: central heating was mentioned in history lessons about the Romans.
    I first encountered central heating when I was 29 as I moved into my second(and much better) flat – I had to open the big sliding window a lot of the time because my metabolism was not accustomed to an environment that hot.

  6. Bloke in North Dorset

    “ Excavator Man, my mum sold Knitmaster knitting machines for over twenty years. Demonstrated them to loads of people, ”

    I listened to a podcast on the history of the sewing machine as part of the Industrial Revolutions podcast series recently. Although Singer had a patent he ripped off other patents. Eventually he settled with the other patent holders, but his real success was the insight that he had to get over the believe that women couldn’t operate machines.

    To do that he hired, trained and paid women to sit in shop windows using them. He also sold them cheap to vickers’ wives knowing they’d get used in sewing circles.

  7. Tim, if the Legatum Institute can invent and promote its own measure of poverty then you can too. Create a Scandium Poverty Index which measures poverty in terms of a person’s access to rare-earth metals. Then challenge people to prove that it is not any less arbitrary than most of the measures of poverty that are commonly used by politicians and the media.

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