New poll shows public support for bold anti-poverty initiative

By staff writers
September 11, 2008

The majority of the British public want the UK’s political parties to set out how they will end poverty in the country, a new YouGov opinion survey for the freshly-launched Get Fair campaign reveals today.

As politicians gather for the annual party conference season the poll shows a total of 51 per cent of people - evenly spread across gender, age group, social class and region - say they would be more inclined to vote for a party that takes ‘serious measures’ to eradicate poverty.

The poll for Get Fair, a new coalition of more than 50 charities and faith groups, also shows only 2 per cent think poverty doesn’t exist in Great Britain with just 8 per cent thinking nothing can be done.

Nearly 90 per cent of respondents identified what they would like to see done to tackle poverty. Over two-thirds, 69 per cent, say one of the most effective ways to tackle poverty is through more and better training to help people out of poverty, with 36 per cent highlighting Government intervention as key to helping the poorest.

Get Fair, whose members include Help the Aged, Oxfam, Shelter, the Disability Alliance, Save the Children, YWCA and the Refugee Council and voluntary and community groups, commissioned the poll to launch its campaign today. It aims to secure the commitment of all major political parties to deliver on their existing commitment to end child poverty by 2020, and to extend this goal to ending poverty across every generation in the UK.

Kate Wareing, Oxfam’s Director for UK poverty, says: “It is completely unacceptable that more than 13 million people live in poverty in the UK – the fifth richest country in the world. This new poll shows that the majority of British people agree. No one should be forced to live in poverty, whether they are a child, adult, or pensioner – and whether they are in or out of work and Oxfam calls on politicians of all parties to agree bold measures to tackle poverty."

Churches and faith groups, including denominations and agencies such as Church Action on Poverty, are heavily involved in the anti-poverty alliance.

With 1 in 5 already living in poverty in the UK, the coalition warns that poverty is closer than most people think. As more and more of the public are financially crippled by soaring fuel bills, higher mortgage payments and rising food prices, it is the poorest who are hit hardest.

Fran Beckett, Chair of Get Fair and a community campaigner, said: “These results send a clear warning that voters want and expect our political parties to set out exactly how they will address poverty so that we have a real social safety net. Making Britain a fairer place should be one of the key political issues that parties discuss during their conferences over the next few weeks.”

Get Fair vice-chair Vanessa Stanislas, chief executive of the Disability Alliance, added: “The UK is becoming richer but not fairer, with one in five people now living in poverty in the world’s 5th richest country. The majority of British people want a fairer society and this poll suggests that they will reward the political party which has the confidence to tackle poverty.”

Shelter chief executive Adam Sampson commented from his perspective: “Every day Shelter sees more and more ordinary people who are falling into poverty after becoming victims of Britain’s economic downturn. This poll is very important, and acts as a wake up call, as it shows people of all ages, regions and social classes want something done about poverty and are prepared to vote with their feet.”

Meanwhile, Paul Cann, Director of Policy and External Relations at Help the Aged, says: “It’s high time all political parties committed to tackling poverty in the UK. It is nothing short of a disgrace that in the fifth richest country in the world, 822 pensioners are forced into poverty on average each day. Once people on fixed incomes find themselves living below the breadline, it is virtually impossible for them to pull themselves out of poverty. Concrete measures, such as the automatic payment of benefits, are needed now.”

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.