Friday 1 March 2013

The Joint Public Issues Team on Myths About Poverty

The Joint Public Issues Team (the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church, the Church of Scotland, and the United Reformed Church) has published a report on ‘Truth and Lies About Poverty’.

The report – The Lies We Tell Ourselves: Ending Comfortable Myths About Poverty – is available here as a pdf. It seeks to lay bare ‘six myths about the poor which enable the majority to live with the comfortable assumption that both poverty and wealth are deserved’.

Here are the six myths:

Myth 1: ‘They’ are lazy and just don’t want to work
Myth 2: ‘They’ are addicted to drink and drugs
Myth 3: ‘They’ are not really poor – they just don’t manage their money properly
Myth 4: ‘They’ are on the fiddle
Myth 5: ‘They’ have an easy life on benefits
Myth 6: ‘They’ caused the deficit

And here’s a paragraph from the Executive Summary:

‘The myths exposed in this report, reinforced by politicians and the media, are convenient because they allow the poor to be blamed for their poverty, and the rest of society to avoid taking any of the responsibility. Myths hide the complexity of the true nature of poverty in the UK. They enable dangerous policies to be imposed on whole sections of society without their full consequences being properly examined. This report aims to highlight some comfortable myths, show how they have come to prominence and test them against serious evidence.’

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