Poverty in Our Society In this assignment I intend to show an awareness of the concepts,
definitions and measurements of poverty, of the groups experiencing
poverty, social exclusion and discrimination. I will then discuss
Government anti-poverty policies, legislation and how social work can
respond to poverty.
I shall now discuss the history of poverty the legislation, theories
and measurements of poverty.
The Poor Law Act 1601 focused on work discipline, deterrence and
classification [Golding and Middleton (1982, Alcock.P p11). People who
were poor or destitute were sent to workhouses, as a form of poverty
relief, which was seen as a deterrent rather than a solution to
poverty. [Alcock. P p11] Poor people were classed as the "deserving"
(the elderly or sick) and the "undeserving" (idle, lazy, criminal)"individualist
theory". Due to economic structure legislation changed in 1795 to
support local parishes to top up agricultural workers wages with the
introduction of the "Speedhamland System". This form of support was
costly and indiscriminate and did not control or encourage employment.
Due to recognition of high unemployment and poverty the Poor Law
(1834) was amended, claiming that a person had to be destitute or
unemployable in order to receive assistance. [Alcock. P p11] According
to Ditch (1996) this law was established to "deter a person from
benefiting or seeing it as a substitute for employment"(p25).
In (1899) Rowantree conducted a study of people experiencing poverty
in York, Absolute poverty based on income. He concluded a family lived
in poverty if they had insufficient resources to meet and maintain the
basic needs of physical requirements of body and soul, health and
efficiency. [Rowantree 1901). Absolute poverty does exist but should
be seen as a relative concept. [Scottish Executive Social Justice
[Prescott 1994: 26) states that absolute poverty does not exist in
Britain today having been virtually eliminated by the welfare state,
with the exception of small groups such as homeless or elderly people
who die through not heating their homes in the winter, this is not due
to "poverty" but is the person's choice. [Becker. S p22] (Pathological
Relative Poverty defined by (Townsend, 1979) measured poverty in the
state standard income, relative income standard of poverty and
relative deprivation. Townsend states the poverty line is decided by
society, that a person is living in poverty if he or she is excluded
from social participation or part citizenship (Structural theory).
[Townsend 1979, Golding 1986, Lister 1990, Oppenheim and Harker 1996]
(Becker. S p23)
Mack and Lansley 1985 "Breadline Britain" was based on Townsend's
relative measurement also...