Iain Duncan Smith Attributes Child Poverty To Parental Drug/Alcohol Addiction – Is This True?

by richardhutton

In a recent speech to Kids Company, an organisation which provides therapy to vulnerable children, the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith claimed that

“The Government is currently consulting on a new multidimensional measure of child poverty…A recent poll conducted as part of the consultation process shows that whilst not having enough income is thought to be one important factor other criteria are considered equally or even more crucial. Interestingly, having a parent addicted to drugs or alcohol was thought to be the most important factor of all”

He then added that

“There are around 100,000 people claiming sickness benefits whose illness is primarily down to their drug or alcohol addiction. Of these, a staggering 23,000 have been claiming incapacity benefits for a decade or more”.

In reality, according to the government’s own statistics, the total number of people incapacitated by drug abuse is 37,480. Of these, 9,200 have been in reciept of incapacity/sickness support for 10 years plus. Alcoholism accounts for 42,360 recipients of sickness/incapacity support. 12,880 people for 10 years plus.

So, the true total is 79,840 people. According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s conservative estimate, 2.3 million British children were living in poverty, as of 2010/11. For parental alcoholism/drug addiction to be the cause of poverty for these children, the 79,840 people would need to have c. 29 children each.

In reality, 61% of children who live in poverty have at least one parent in work. Child poverty persists because these parents have insufficient incomes to provide for basic necessities. Money is the critical factor, as should hardly need stating.

Duncan Smith’s true agenda during his speech was to boast the virtues of the Work Programme – and justify giving it additional funding under the aegis of ‘Recovery Works’, which will see Work Programme providers receive payments should they secure employment for an addict undergoing treatment. Needless to say, this is completely irrelevant to parents already in work. Duncan Smith was also using this speech to claim that Universal Credit will alleviate child poverty for these families – when it is purposely designed to penalise people on low incomes. Giving more money to Work Programme providers will do nothing to alleviate child poverty. Reducing social security to these families will have an obvious consequence.

This is merely the government giving even more money to a private gravy train, which has already demonstrated its total inefficacy. Meanwhile, child poverty is set to worsen considerably.