Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Paupers and beauty queens

Today's statistics on poverty make grim reading. More children and pensioners are living in poverty - as defined by the UK Government - during 2006/7 than during the previous year.

It's the first time pensioner poverty has risen in the UK for almost a decade. The Government's aim of halving child poverty by 2010 is highly unlikely to be met.

By my reckoning, relative child poverty in Wales has increased slightly while pensioner poverty has slightly declined. Six thousand more Welsh children are living below the poverty line than one year earlier - one child in four.

Anyone who believes the streets of London are paved with gold stolen from devolved administrations may be slightly surprised to see that after housing costs four in ten children in London live in relative poverty - proportionately rather more than do in Wales.

Barnett formula fetishists will also have noticed this story in the Telegraph. The paper may have its own agenda but again demands for a review of the formula that decides much public spending in Wales and Scotland are coming from England.

Former Welsh Secretary John Redwood is quoted: "I think the Government is in trouble and it is getting a backlash in England about the assymetry of the devolution settlement."

I hear the English Democrats are hoping to field a candidate - amid the various beauty queens - in the Henley by-election to make similar points about the alleged unfairness to England of the settlement.

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