THE fact that according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation an additional 700,000 UK children and pensioners have fallen into relative poverty over the past four years is totally unacceptable and must act as a wake-up call to the Tory Government.

Indeed, the charity said it was the first time in 20 years that poverty in these groups had seen sustained rises.

According to the report, since 2013 an extra 300,000 pensioners and 400,000 children are now living in poverty and the “prospects for solving” the problem “currently look worrying”.

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Despite the Government protecting the value of the basic state pension since 2010, Pension Credit, a benefit paid to the poorest pensioners, has not kept pace with rising costs.

Child poverty has also been driven by stagnant wages for low income families and a freeze on benefits and changes to tax credits, which many families, both in and out of work, rely on.

New threats to the poorest households include rising housing costs, higher food and energy bills, debts and not being able to contribute to a pension. It is a real struggle for thousands and thousands of people every day to make ends meets, and that number is rising.

Ending the benefits freeze is the single biggest change the Government could do to help those now living in poverty and it must do this, and do it now, before we push hundreds of thousands more people into the misery of poverty.

Alex Orr,

Flat 2,

77 Leamington Terrace,

Edinburgh.

THE latest statistics released today by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation clearly demonstrate that relative poverty is on the increase in the UK with in excess of 14 million citizens living in relative or absolute poverty.

That fact should come as no surprise to anyone with an interest in current affairs, neither should the prediction that with benefits being frozen as they are and inflation outstripping wage rises that the situation is likely to deteriorate further.

The BBC reported this item as being from “the left-leaning Rowntree Foundation” as if there was doubt as to the accuracy of the findings despite the Government’s own House of Commons library report of June 2017 recording the 2015-16 level of relative poverty

as being 14 million, which was an increase of 500,000 from the previous year.

The levels of poverty are staggering, especially when one considers many of those caught in the poverty trap are actually in employment or are pensioners unable to supplement their state pensions.

The UK is the fifth wealthiest country in the world yet 20 per cent of the population live in relative or absolute poverty and the number is rising.

That is a frightening statistic.

To me it poses the question of just how bad does it have to become before an increasing cohort of have-nots trapped in poverty through no fault of their own decide enough is enough and take direct action to force change upon an unfair and unresponsive political system dominated and manipulated by those who deliberately keep them impoverished?

Does that remind you of anything?

David J Crawford,

85 Whittingehame Court,

1300 Great Western Road, Glasgow.

SOCIAL mobility is at least as much of an issue here in the Lowlands of Scotland, as it is down south, where former Labour government minister Alan Milburn, and the three other commissioners felt obliged to resign from the Government’s Social Mobility Commission (“Entire board of Social Mobility body quits over lack of progress”, The Herald, December 4).

The underlying assumption of the commission and of all progressive opinion is that people are incapable of overcoming adversity or discrimination and achieving anything for themselves without massive state “help”. We have spent well over half a century in Britain testing this proposition, and unsurprisingly it has completely failed.

Comprehensive education and the closure of selective schools took opportunity away from bright working-class kids. The tax and welfare systems are structured in such a way as promote welfare dependence and kill marriage. Mass immigration since the Blair years has depressed wages for working class people, while benefitting the well off.

The culture of grievance and victimhood, which progressive politicians have assiduously cultivated has demoralised, in both senses of the word, a great many people. At the same time, it has brought great electoral benefits to the parties and politicians, who promoted this destructive mind set.

If we really want opportunity for all (and social mobility), we should promote optimism, self-help and free market policies. Whenever they have been tried, they have always worked.

Otto Inglis,

6 Inveralmond Grove,

Edinburgh.

IT really is beyond me that the Government seemingly cannot roll-out Universal Credit in such a way that those in receipt of benefits do not have to wait any time at all to get this payment.

Currently, those on benefit receive, for instance, their Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA0 every fortnight; therefore, come the due date when they would usually get their JA, they simply receive their Universal Credit payment, albeit, this is monthly from then on.

Job done. Simple.

Or is this too simple for the vast bureaucracy administering the benefits system? Do their Government masters have some penny-pinching hidden agenda obscuring the above clarity?

Philip Adams,

7 Whirlie Road,

Crosslee,

Renfrewshire.

YOU have featured several interesting articles within the past few days: the one in five children in poverty, the homeless issue, workers working for nothing – along with other stories like the fortunes being paid to footballers, and huge salaries and bonus payments being dished out in other sectors. So, in 2017 we still have the features of the 19th century: the rich and the poor due and the unequal distribution of wealth. If there was a Maximum Wage Law of no more than £300,000 per year then large sums would be freed up for a fair and just society.

B McKenna,

Overtoun Avenue, Dumbarton.