Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London, has issued the following statement to mark this year’s UN International Day for the Eradication of Poverty:
“This day, marked every year on the 17th of October, aims to promote awareness of the need to eradicate poverty and destitution across the world. The economic downturn has made the issue of poverty relevant to many, yet it is clear that for some governments the crisis is being used as an excuse to recklessly cut long established and vital means of support for some of our most vulnerable people.
“Here in the UK, the ongoing debate surrounding changes to the welfare system from child tax credits to housing benefits has not been framed as tackling and preventing poverty, but rather about cutting public spending. We know that poverty is not inevitable but policy susceptible, and that some countries are doing better than others at protecting people living on the poverty line. These seemingly innocuous plans to deliver cuts to the welfare budget will leave more people struggling to pay the rent, more children growing up in desperate circumstances and ultimately more people becoming homeless. Given what we know about the long-term effects of poverty, it is morally reprehensible for the UK Government to bury its head in the sand whilst thousands of families are condemned to a life of destitution through no fault of their own.
“It is a disgrace that in one of the richest nations in the world we still have people who go to bed hungry because they cannot afford to eat; who cannot afford to keep warm or who have no roof over their head. The UN International Day for the Eradication of Poverty shines a spotlight on those pernicious policies that keep people poor and reminds us that in this time of crisis, we need to act fast before we see the lives of many reduced and damaged.”