Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 1st July 2015

Governments often get accused of fudging statistics. Having studied statistics, one of my regular complaints at the County Council is over the administration’s attempts to run the organisation—and increasingly hold to account companies they’ve outsourced to—through metrics which don’t really mean anything.

With that in mind you could perhaps forgive David Cameron for deciding one of the Government’s measures needed revising. Yet this measure wasn’t just another attempt to revise how we determine inflation or yet again exclude further people who are unemployed from the Government’s unemployment statistics, it was something truly appalling.

In 1999, the Labour Government made a commitment to eradicate child poverty by 2020, they believed it enough to enshrine it in law. In 2007, the new leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron, made a commitment to address child poverty. In April 2015, the Conservative manifesto committed the party to eliminate child poverty. In June 2015, the newly elected Conservative cabinet met to discuss they could ‘revise’ child poverty statistics as the latest numbers showed not only the Government’s failure at tackling child poverty but that the number of children in poverty in working households has steadily risen during Cameron’s time in Downing Street.

I don’t know if Cameron is honestly committed to ending child poverty, I don’t know if it bothers him at all but looking at the evidence one thing is clear: his approach isn’t working. Children don’t choose to be born, they shouldn’t be blamed for their parents’ choices, if blame is appropriate at all. Yet what we know is life-chances for children born in poverty are getting progressively worse.

When you compare average house prices to wages, Crawley is the UK’s sixth most expensive place to live. Until that’s addressed, it doesn’t matter how hard people work, many residents won’t be able to afford to live on their paycheque alone. As a council we’re building affordable housing as quickly we can but finding every turn blocked by the Government.

Adjusting statistics has always been easier than taking responsibility, but actively getting in the way of solving working poverty, that’s inexcusable.

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