Comments for en-gb 30 Thu 30 Jul 2015 03:38:25 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at dennisjunior1 Mark:Today's report from Oxfam is explicit in how the charity believes policy should be changed to help the poor [pdf link]: make the tax system more progressive, put welfare reform on hold, increase out-of-work benefits and tax credits...I think that the charities are correct when making their proposals....~Dennis Junior~ Sun 19 Apr 2009 02:24:25 GMT+1 ijustthought An issue not considered by the charities seems to be the effect of them ‘going political’ on their ‘humanitarian’ credentials within other countries. Having worked on humanitarian programmes in contexts of instability and conflict, the perceived neutrality of the organisation that one is working for is an important factor in ones security, and ability to deliver assistance in highly politicised context especially of continuing violence. If in their home context, the UK, these organisations are now political actors (and let us not pretend that what they advocate is not ‘left wing’ or ‘socialist’ in hue) then they are inevitably political actors in every context. The danger is that the desire to have an affect in the UK may have the effect of restricting their work in ‘developing’ contexts, and so negatively affecting the poorest of the poor globally, the very people we support the charities to provide assistance for. This strikes me as a case of hubris. Thu 16 Apr 2009 08:45:31 GMT+1 Paul H I do voluntary work with a local charity that just had to stop our Advocacy service because of funding.As far as campaigning is concerned - are people saying that doctors are only there to dish out medication for cancer, not provide advice on how to stop smoking? In my view, changing people's views is campaigning. The problem is when NGO's primary focus changes from practical aspects of care, to campaigning itself.As for some of the other comments - how can anyone be so callous to use Human misery just to make a Political point for their Political Party? Surely we're all Human, and make mistakes. I've met many politicians, some I'd be pleased to shake their hands, others not so. Mon 13 Apr 2009 18:36:30 GMT+1 FatPeace - A Promise to Heather BBrennan (#10) thank you for that very informative link. The section on 'Weight Concern' is informative to say the least. And I think those of us who keep up-to-date on obesity epi-panic issues are more than aware of the case of 'The Obesity Action and Solutions Trust' (TOAST), a group which portrayed itself as a charity but ended up being exposed as the political wing of the LighterLife diet organisation. I agree with you about the dangers of these illiberal, health-related charities and 'pseudo-charities', but it helps vindicate my position when I see others noticing that many of these weight and obesity-related organisations are little more than fronts for Government departments or the pharmaceutical industry. Comparing the numbers of each also serves as a good example of 'trendy' causes eclipsing those which are less appealing but ultimately of more genuine concern; maybe someone should research why obesity groups currently outnumber those dealing with mental health issues ten-to-one.I think what really bothers me is when we hear the authoritarian rhetoric of sin taxation and greater surveillance / monitoring being espoused not only by these single-issue pressure groups but by mainstream, respected charities such as Cancer Research UK, the British Heart Foundation and Diabetes UK, organisations once dedicated to providing assistance and funding research now more concerned with using hyperbolic fearmongering and basing their 'campaigns' for fast food bans, fat taxes or whatever on dubious and frequently contested statistics. Whatever good these groups may have done in the past is being rapidly undone by the fact that whilst pretty much everyone would agree that finding research into diseases is a good thing, demanding restrictions on what people can and can't do in a free society based on the possibility that these restrictions might reduce rates of a certain condition isn't what many people want to see their money spent on.And that's before you consider the way many of these charities are now run as national or multinational businesses, with vast sums squandered on executive perks (see the recent case of the head of Shelter and his gold-plated expense accounts) marketing and publicity, consultants and all the other trappings of the corporate world. Mon 13 Apr 2009 15:31:49 GMT+1 Shupi Two things here are instructive:Liam Byrne considers £750,000 to be 'a little bit of money,'and when asked on the Today programme what 'innovative campaigning' might involve, he couldn't even provide an example.This nonsense is symptomatic of a Government with too much of our money and not enough good ideas to spend it on. Mon 13 Apr 2009 08:50:29 GMT+1 harrietharmman The worst charities in terms of politicising issues and distorting the truth are in the domestic violence sector.Thy use their advertising to pretend only really women are affected by domestic abuse despite Uk government statistics showing the opposite.I think the main requirement should be for such charities to actually tell the truth, and there should be regulations to stop their disgraceful sexism - in terms of their advertising, their practices and in terms of their membership polices. Sun 12 Apr 2009 05:09:56 GMT+1 phoenixarisenq 47. dhimmiI agree completely with this comment. I could write a thousand words showing how funds sent for humanitarian aid in Gaza are utilised for weapons or to fill the pockets of corrupt officials, but who will listen? Israel's fatal mistake was winning the Six Day War. If she had been conquered and destroyed, crocodile tears would have been shed, and a whole cottage industry built up on the history of her destruction. Even Galloway, Livingstone, Wedgewood Benn and his ilk would have been happy to oblige and earn themselves some extra lecture fees. In some ways, the hypocrisy of the West is worse than the bloodthirst of the crazed Hamas. Sat 11 Apr 2009 18:00:43 GMT+1 dhimmi The Disasters Emergency Committee should be ashamed of themselves and disbanded.When Israel was under attack for a long period of time by those bent on finishing what Hitler started, they made no appeal whatsoever but as soon as Israel decided to defend herself, the whining and crying started.Enough of the hypocrisy please! Sat 11 Apr 2009 10:18:30 GMT+1 Shashlik I seen someone write about the famous "Redistribution of wealth" Theory, Yes that sounds like a winner, ah lets see now, what does that actually mean ? OH I see now, I screwed up my life and all my opportunities by being a complete dick, so lets have another shot at my life again, please, oh please lets have another shot at it, take other peoples money who worked their $%^ off getting it and give it to me and all the other no hopers so that we can spend it? mmmmmmmmmmmm interesting opinion.My heart goes out to all the poor souls who have been left with crippling ailments who cannot work and who are unable to better their life, but for an able bodied man to come up with "The Redistribution of Wealth Theory" I find absolutely hilarious and completely spineless, yeh sure, that'll work. Sat 11 Apr 2009 03:53:30 GMT+1 sagablonde 'Poor' means what in this country? Children have no control over their feckless spendthrift parents. How many poor families still have smokers, nearly £6 for twenty? How many poor families pay no attention to family planning. How many little children in this country go barefoot and cold and hungry and diseased? How many are orphaned and left with brothers and sisters and no hope? How many carry water in bottles from a well?How many go without medicine and schooling, and have to walk miles to market? How many children in this country are the product of ragged mongrel parenting, can we see statistics on that, or doesn't this government keep those type of figures ( like foreign student numbers)Impoverishment of the soul is the disease of today, and no desire for self improvement! Fri 10 Apr 2009 18:35:25 GMT+1 grand voyager 41 ikamsstkiep 42 shashlik My friends i have been on another blog for months trying to get the same message across but to no avail, I would like to see both your posts turned into posters and put on boards throughout the country, its time people stopped moaning and realised how lucky they are, employed or unemployed they are still better of than most of the World and that includes children working sixty odd hours a week for a pittance in order to put clothes on the back of what is to them rich westerners. Fri 10 Apr 2009 16:34:01 GMT+1 newsjock Why should the government give our money to any charity. Let those who wish to give to charity do that, and allow the organisation to recoup the tax already paid on the money. If some charities have to fold as a result, well, so be.I object to our money being given by government to charities to advertise or to raise their profile. The idea that such money could be used for political campaigning is repugnant.Charities should stand on their own feet without any government assistance. If a major crisis develops, and a charity already has an organisational network in the problem, then the government could fund the delivery of emergency aid through that charity, PROVIDED that no money has to be paid in bribes or sweeteners to facilitate distribution.If bribery is necessary to enable emergency distribution of supplies to go ahead, our government and the EC, both of whom are funded by you and me, should not contribute to aid, however worthy or necessitous that aid is. Fri 10 Apr 2009 16:04:26 GMT+1 Shashlik I have spent most of my working life overseas in places that have nothing in the way of social care. It never fails to amaze me how ungrateful people are in the UK. We have a democratic Government, free health care, decent people with high values, a good Police force that is not corrupt, we have incredible History and Culture to be proud of, great public services, fantastic opportunities in life, probably the most tolerant society on the planet, yet we still have people who are a complete pain in the %$# who are always on their soap box whining moaning and complaining about how bad everything is, how bad our Country is and how terrible things are. I suggest they pack there bags and go to wherever they think is a better Country. I do not know a better place to live and I have lived all over the world all my life. I think we need more spine, more commitment, more "can do attitude" more positive thought, more care for their own attitude and interpersonal skills and less whining, moaning, complaining, slagging, negative attitudes. Show a little more respect to the UK. Fri 10 Apr 2009 05:41:26 GMT+1 ikamaskeip delminster and #39."..this country (UK) is slipping into 3rd world status.."Oh for goodness sake! There are certainly some hardships to be found in the UK, but, your view is entirely without factual reality.In the last month the UK PM attended the G8, G20 meetings of the richest nations in the world; despite the economic downturn the average income in UK is many times greater than three-quarters of the world's population; UK literacy, numeracy etc. although far from perfect is amongst the top40 in the world; UK is in top10 for Computers per household; the NHS for all its faults treated every UK Citizen in some way (from ops to GPs to home help to info/advice letters) whereas 1.2 billion of the World population have no access at all to Health care.Try to see beyond the daily gripe and grind.Have you ever been to a genuine 3rd world nation?I have: from the wretched, disease ridden slums of so-called newly developed nations like India and Brazil to the outright famine struck like Ethiopia; you have no idea just how rotten an existence and how cheap life can be out there and yet the human spirit survives. Thu 09 Apr 2009 18:34:04 GMT+1 stanblogger It is really rather obvious that if there were a redistribution of wealth, nationally and internationally, so that poor people could buy the things they desperately need, the extra demand created would cure the recession very quickly. The charities are quite right to point this out on behalf of those they are trying to help. It is revealing that Ms Kirby, presumably unable to counter the arguments of the charities, should resort to arguing that they do not have the right to say these things. Thu 09 Apr 2009 17:42:04 GMT+1 delminister charity starts at home an old saying that has been overlooked in recent times.many of the leading charities are to busy overseas to think about the UK.but this country is sinking into third world status and only now charities are thinking of us here.well if the government wont help those less fortunate then may be the charities are our only hope, before we slip back to workhouses and the like. Thu 09 Apr 2009 16:38:04 GMT+1 The_judge_of_it #36 If Thatcher's influence is to blame for the depression, then what has Labour done to counter her negative influence, during its many years in power? Instead, I have heard that the crisis resulted from the excessive supply of cheap credit due to the action of central banks, and therefore the intervention of governments, in the last few years. Thu 09 Apr 2009 14:36:45 GMT+1 stanilic Investing in the poor? Now there is an interesting concept: what is the rate of return or the added value? Poor use of language methinks.No, this is another example of the self-appointed great and good running off with a further tranche of taxpayer funds so they can polish their egos in front of one another. This will not help the poor to become less dependant. The way to alleviate poverty is, as Shashlik has said, to empower the poor to take control of their own lives through work and opportunity. However, this would render the great and good superfluous and that will never do. Thu 09 Apr 2009 14:09:22 GMT+1 I am not a number Rustigjongens:Of course for your left narrative these facts are not allowed to be used to stop your pathetic attempts to blame everything on the Conservatives, please grow up.It's you who needs to grow up for one thing you're making baseless assumptions, I'm in fact a centre right voter. For some reason not many people seem to realise that the political spectrum isn't as simple as left and right, it's a common misconception we imported from the Americans sadly enough I see this happening in the Netherlands as well.The thing is, economically speaking I'm modestly liberal, not extreme liberal like Thatcher, and that is why I believe Thatcher is part of the blame for this economic crisis. Is she the only one to blame? Of course not, but saying she got nothing to do with it is just being in denial she definitely pushed the world into extreme economic liberalism which caused this depression. Thu 09 Apr 2009 13:49:53 GMT+1 John Ellis Oh i don't have problems its the rest of the world that does have problems.Charities are there to speak up at what ever level and if it means preaching of the same soap box as the devil then that's the way it has to be. They are the unheard voices of millions of people of all ages. If they have to lobby government for fundamental change then they have to. If people don't like the fact that it has come to this point then they really need to ask why. the USA has third world charities doing up to 50% of the work the government should be doing for its own people. This is more about embarrassing the well off into understanding how people are forced to live in the UK Thu 09 Apr 2009 13:25:35 GMT+1 grand voyager 33 community criminalI am sorry to hear of your problems, and I can suggest no answers but do take my advice and contact the CAB they have the answers to your monetary problems but I am afraid not your health problems, once again I am sorry for your problems but I dont think that you can begin to compare them to the problems of most of the general public, try CAB you may be surprised Good luck, I hope you find some relief. Thu 09 Apr 2009 13:05:38 GMT+1 John Ellis "so what you are trying to tell us is that those who are not on the high rate of incapacity benefit get less than ?33 per week for three for food and drink,you must live in a different world to me my friend."Yup i do its called hell on earth While i wont go further into my illness i now live in a 2 bed house prolonged periods of hyper activity means i don't sleep much when i do sleep I have to change bedding most nights so there is double washing already just to sleep. Shall i go on ? if you look at the help available to anyone with a mental health problem there is none even though Im house bound 99.5% of the time i do not qualify for anything more than base rate DLA which i have been unable to claim because i don't really qualify under guidelines as i only have a mental health problem. The periods when i have worked have been in good jobs but in turn these have further aggravated my illness which in turn leaves me on stronger medication which in turn means I have more expense in keeping clean smelling acceptable I have prescription toothpaste because the medication I take has made my gum's recede my teeth rot to the point of extraction, which is better than the last lot of medication which turned me in to a zombie the one before erectile dysfunction wetting myself the one before seepage of blood through veins into my skin. Thu 09 Apr 2009 12:05:50 GMT+1 tarquin Ideally charities shouldn't be able to lobby politicians - in effect they are competing for their own causes and aren't exactly impartial on the matterThere should be a set amount ring-fenced to be used for aid that could be decided on by an independent panel Thu 09 Apr 2009 11:08:50 GMT+1 grand voyager 20 community criminal I find it hard to understand your figures.if you are claiming income support which you should be according to your figures then your rent is paid for you, in addition you apparently receive family allowance £20 per week,if it costs you £50 per week[thats £2600 per year]for heating and water then you must have a very large house with swimming pool that has the water changed very often,£10 on toiletries per week for three people you must be very clean people, £10 kitchen stuff, once you have you kitchen equipment it lasts you for years eccept for the odd roll of foil or kitchen towelling,and if you health situation is as bad as you say you can also claim carers allowance, take a trip to your nearest CAB if you can afford the bus fare.#So yes malnutrition is a very possible danger in this country. Im well off as i get the high rate of incapacity benefit for mental health problems for illness that has spanned most of my lifeso what you are trying to tell us is that those who are not on the high rate of incapacity benefit get less than £33 per week for three for food and drink,you must live in a different world to me my friend. Thu 09 Apr 2009 10:50:37 GMT+1 jon112uk # 16. At 7:04pm on 08 Apr 2009, procharity wrote:# 17. At 7:25pm on 08 Apr 2009, mightyHotPenguin wrote:19. At 8:25pm on 08 Apr 2009, badgercourage wrote:======================This is what Mark is getting at about the politics...First two guys think 'poverty' is earning less than others - thats a measure of inequality, not poverty. Badgercourage thinks it's about absolute poverty - eg. starving.Some people will argue that the single mother makes choices about having children she can't support, she makes choices about not getting married, she makes choices about not getting a job, that giving her benefits just makes this worse not better - including her kids becoming the next generation with that lifestyle etc etc. It's all politics.If the charities want to just help that woman, that's great, but if they want to start down a particular political path then they run the risk that people who disagree with their politics stop funding them. Equally if they are on a political campaign then I don't think the media should treat them as neutral parties any more - they are selling a message and they need to be subject to question like any other politician. Thu 09 Apr 2009 10:41:51 GMT+1 The_judge_of_it There is a continuous spectrum of economic policy between communism (everyone paid the same no matter the work) and the unfettered free market. Economic theory and the experience of countries both show that the freer the market (low taxes and hindrances on companies), the higher the potential for the economy to grow.Imagine an economy with just two people. One earns £10, the other £100. The difference in earnings (the inequality) is then £90. Now imagine that the economy grows and both get a 10% raise in wages/profit. Then one will have £11 and the other £110. The inequality will then be £99, much higher than before but is that a bad thing? of course not. Both have become richer. So you can see that as an economy grows it follows that inequality will grow too. Should we then take from the rich to give to the poor? Well we do that already but it is hurting economic growth, meaning everyone's prospects. Better in my opinion to focus on making the country attractive to companies, thus helping reduce unemployment. The unemployment rate is probably a more accurate measurement of poverty and how successful a country is. Thu 09 Apr 2009 10:20:56 GMT+1 badgercourage Sorry, I missed an important few words from para 4 of my #26. It should read "If you define poverty as a fixed percentage of the median without altering income distribution..." Thu 09 Apr 2009 10:19:22 GMT+1 Shashlik We only ever hear people wanting more money from the Government. But what we forget is that it's our money not the Governments money. Charities are no different. Instead of asking for hand outs why not think of ways that poor people can help themselves. Like the old saying goes, instead of giving the man a fish every day for the rest of his life why not teach him how to fish then he can feed himself and his family. Why do charities not spend more time on empowerment of the poor instead of asking for handouts. Training, education, confidence building, cooking and nurturing classes, quality of life training. It seams to me that this Robin Hood mentality is really getting out of hand and people need to be responsible for their own life. There are a lot of really good people who are poor, they have unbelievable talents in all things, these are the talents that need to be harnessed if we are to build a better more equal society. No but it's easier to ask for a hand out from the Government right? We need to adopt a new approach, new ideas and new way of dealing with these issues if we are to get out of the mess we are in with the credit crunch. Thu 09 Apr 2009 10:07:10 GMT+1 badgercourage #22Of course I read this and agree it's a disgraceful reflection on our society. I'm not some heartless politician, just an ordinary Joe.However, individual cases make bad benchmarks and there are always choices to be made by society and individuals. I don't want to belittle the difficulties faced by anyone left behind by the increasingly polarised inequalities of modern Britain. But no, in absolute terms this is not poverty, it's relative poverty on "unrichness" as you put it.I wish I did have a better definition and a solution to inequality in the UK today, together with how to get from here to there, but I don't.But I stand by my original contention that defining poverty as 60% of median income and the hyperbole over the scale of the challenge hinder rather than help tackling the real issue: inequality. The GINI co-efficient (the ratio of the highest income group to the lowest) is a better approach.If you define poverty as a fixed percentage of the median then by definition there cannot be a reduction in poverty, as every year the median goes up and those below the line remain "poor". Relative povery can only be addressed by narrowing the GINI co-efficient. Charities are right to target those on the lowest incomes but unless society agrees to reduce inequality it's just a sticking plaster. We have the means through social and taxation policy to make this debate irrelevant and lift everyone to a reasonably comfortable living standard with relatively little pain to the rest of us. I'd willingly accept higher taxation to achieve that. As a society we have gone the other way ever since we introduced the "Welfare State", congratulated ourselves on our achievement than collectively washed our hands of the rest of the challenges.And it's probably got worse, not better, in the last 10 years.But as I said, we probably agree about most of this. I just want a more honest approach to the choices we face. Thu 09 Apr 2009 09:24:47 GMT+1 HardWorkingHobbes If I may put on my devils advocate ultra right-wing hat for a moment:If there is no poverty in the UK then why would anyone work?If I knew that I could have an acceptable standard of living no matter what my personal circumstances then why did I bother to work at school, university, in the workplace and with further profesional exams?I did this because I didn't want to live in 'poverty' I hate working and if I thought that I could get a reasonable standard of living without bothering I'd quit before this post gets moderated.The threat of living in a squalid dump without enough food or any form of extras (tv, books, newspapers) is the driving force that makes most people actually get up in the morning when the alarm goes off.No chance of poverty = no chance of me working Thu 09 Apr 2009 09:24:04 GMT+1 harrowingdunn Of course the Labour government is backing this initiative - it is in their interest to have so-called independent bodies talking about traditionally Labour issues, especially during the time of an election and a potential Conservative government. It might be worth asking each of these "independent" bodies how many of their employees took unpaid leave (I hope it was unpaid!) to work for the Labour election campaign in 1997, 2001 and 2005. Perhaps this is the innovative political campaigning to which Liam Burne is referring. Is it wrong of me also to question whether this is the right time to be giving away even this relatively small sum of taxpayers money? Hardly core activity - unless you accept the broader political desire to advantage the government and disadvantage your opponents in that category. Thu 09 Apr 2009 08:56:50 GMT+1 Rustigjongens t 8:36pm on 08 Apr 2009, Gunota wrote:Post 12, wonderful rebuke to the worn out "its all Thatchers fault" mantra propagated by people who seem to have forgotten that Labour have been in power since 1997. And you seem to have forgotten that the only way Labour could have won the 1997 election was by following the Tory's economic policy. In other words Britain has been following the same economic policy since 1979, remind me again who came to power in 1979?===================================================================Remind me Gunota why the Conservatives came to power in 1979?, could it be something to do with Labour and the Unions running the UK into the ground?.You seem to forget that Labour had to ask the IMF for a loan, you seem to forget the fact that the country was bankrupt. Of course for your left narrative these facts are not allowed to be used to stop your pathetic attempts to blame everything on the Conservatives, please grow up. Thu 09 Apr 2009 07:25:37 GMT+1 procharity badgercourage, you said in big fat capital letters "THERE IS NO POVERTY IN THE UK" except for those with mental health issues (perhaps like CommunityCrimninal). You also said there was no malnutrition but then quickly accepted there was. If you don't like the generally accepted definition of poverty in the UK, give us another one. But first may I ask you (again) to read the story of Louise in the Guardian (if the URL I gave for it doesn't work, just google "A portrait of 21st-century poverty") and say whether you would call her poor or just relatively unrich? Wed 08 Apr 2009 20:04:40 GMT+1 I am not a number Post 12, wonderful rebuke to the worn out "its all Thatchers fault" mantra propagated by people who seem to have forgotten that Labour have been in power since 1997.And you seem to have forgotten that the only way Labour could have won the 1997 election was by following the Tory's economic policy. In other words Britain has been following the same economic policy since 1979, remind me again who came to power in 1979? Wed 08 Apr 2009 19:36:18 GMT+1 John Ellis 377 quid is more than the state which causes poverty pays.including housing my wife and i get 268 quid a week to house cloth and feed ourselves and 50 quid child tax credit.of which125 is rent50 fuel water10 toiletries10 kitchen stuff5 tv license30 school expenses / travel + extra activities for exams5 clothing and footwearleaves us with 33 quid a week to feed 3 adults.So yes malnutrition is a very possible danger in this country. Im well off as i get the high rate of incapacity benefit for mental health problems for illness that has spanned most of my life. Wed 08 Apr 2009 19:27:44 GMT+1 badgercourage 17 (and also #16)It's not bias, it's statistical fact. Poverty is defined as 60% of median income.I'm familiar with the JRF's research which is indeed of impeccable statistical and academic quality, and I have every admiration for the JRF who have a great record of speaking truth to power. Before I retired I was associated with similar research in a slightly different field.I didn't say that everyone is getting £11,999, or imply that there aren't people who genuinely have trouble making ends meet, merely that the official definition of "poverty" is an administrative construct with no basis in evidence and is unhelpful as it distracts from the real issue in the UK - income inequality and a taxation system that favours the rich, not absolute poverty. Most of the poorest people in the UK are actually pensioners and asylum seekers.I'm sure you'll appreciate that I was using the slum dweller as an illustration, not as an exclusive definition, as ought to be obvious from the context. I've never been to Africa but have no doubt that poverty in Mozambique and the Congo is of truly horriffic proportions, and rural povery is just as bad as urban povery such as that in the slums of Mumbai where millionaire houses sit a few hundred metres away from people living in apalling conditions. I have seen appalling povery in rural India and elsewhere.By the way, I stand partially corrected on malnutrition. Channel 4 News has just reported that malnutrition is indeed an issue in the UK: at least 2,311 people died in hospitals in the last 10 years from malnutrition through not being fed properly whilst patients, most of them presumably elderly people. And some of them were probably malnourished before they entered hospital. But it kind of makes my point, don't you think...And I'm sure the phrase was used in respect of the UK today. If I am misremembering this, apologies.All that said, I suspect we are basically on the same side. But I want a more honest fact-based approach to combating social and economic inequality in the UK, and in my judgement defining "poverty" as 60% of median income hinders rather than helps that work, as does hyperbole about the scale of the problem more generally as it makes people in power (ministers, civial servants, quangocrats, etc.) think the problem is too large to tackle. It's almost always a bad strategy to exaggerate a real problem rather than measure it accurately and propose detailed solutions.And while I agree that there is a worryingly high number of people in the UK who are in Procharity's words "soul-sappingly poor" relative to comfortable people like us, and that this shames the UK, I fear we are going the wrong way about changing the direction of policy. I think the political climate for really addressing the issues (taxation, access to schooling, health inequality, prison policy, etc.) has got worse not better in the last 10 years.You may not agree with this analysis. If so, let the debate continue. Wed 08 Apr 2009 19:25:18 GMT+1 mightyHotPenguin Sorry - there are only 5 countries with life expectancy lower than 40. Wed 08 Apr 2009 18:39:14 GMT+1 mightyHotPenguin Badgercourage - Your argument seems to be based more on bias that any thing else. You say there is no poverty because 60% of median income is £12k. But that doesn't mean that everybody classed as experiencing poverty is getting 12K - many are getting less than this. Check out if you don't believe me (yes, they are a charity, but they fund academic research - people that go into the world and find out about these things in provable ways).As for "Poverty is living on $2 a day in a slum with no sanitation and a life expectancy of less than 40 years." There a four countries with life expectancy lower than 40 ( and a great number of people in these countries live in rural areas (i.e. not in slums). So you are telling us that there is no poverty in the Congo, Mozambique, etc.Charities are not saying people should "fear widespread malnutrition in the UK" - they are saying that there are some people suffering from malnutrition, and this is unacceptable in one of the world's richest countries.The one bit of your post I agree with is "We could easily address this by taxing the very rich more and increasing the basic old age pension and minimum income guarantee" - and this is pretty much what charities lobby for. More power to them. Wed 08 Apr 2009 18:25:48 GMT+1 procharity Badgercourage, just because people aren't as grindingly poor in the UK as in some developing countries doesn't mean that are still not so soul-sappingly poor as to shame us. If you don't believe me, have a look at a remarkable piece in the Guardian recently about a single mother who is very definitely poor - although she is also very gutsy and rejects this: "'Oh no," she says firmly. "We get by."'One of the most telling lines for me in the piece was '"Shopping at Morrisons doesn't take very long. Louise has a simple formula: don't buy anything that costs more than £1."' See Wed 08 Apr 2009 18:04:15 GMT+1 badgercourage There's another issue here which no-one has raised yet: the word "poverty".I know I have said this before but it's worth saying again:THERE IS NO POVERTY IN THE UK(with the exception of a few people who live rough, usually because of mental health issues or from deliberate choice to opt out of "society"). Even asylum seekers who are pressurised into leaving the UK by not being allowed to earn money and make their own way are not poor by world standards.You are officially defined as "poor" if your income is less than 60% of the median, about £377 after tax a week in 2006-7 according to the IFS. This means a net income of about £11,760 a year then, over £12,000 now, and by definition the figure goes up every year by the same percentage that median income increases.That is not poverty, it is INCOME INEQUALITY or RELATIVE poverty. We could easily address this by taxing the very rich more and increasing the basic old age pension and minimum income guarantee.Poverty is living on $2 a day in a slum with no sanitation and a life expectancy of less than 40 years. Not being able to afford a car and plasma TV in a nation as rich as ours is divisive, distressing and unnecessary but poverty it ain't!The scare stories being run by charities at the moment about people here being vulnerable to malnutrition etc, are just that: scare stories, part of their lobbying. No-one needs to fear widespread malnutrition in the UK. Wed 08 Apr 2009 17:00:34 GMT+1 Rustigjongens Post 12, wonderful rebuke to the worn out "its all Thatchers fault" mantra propagated by people who seem to have forgotten that Labour have been in power since 1997.If a charity wishes to become more political in nature, then I have no problem with that, I will just stop donating my money to them. I currently give 5% of my salary to charities, not one of the charities I support feels the need to become more political.What I do have an issue with is political groups masquerading as charities, and from reading the Save the Children manifesto they have gone from being a non-political entity into an overtly political one, one that has turned its attention away from the UK to other areas of the world, and then has the audacity to demand more of my tax payers money. Charity and politics must be kept separate. Wed 08 Apr 2009 16:24:23 GMT+1 ikamaskeip ThereYouGoAgain and Comment 11."..did you want to make a very dull and tired anti-Thatcher remark..? She left power 20 years ago, get over it."What are you suggesting?I would "dispute", question, analyse any comments Jill Kirby makes: She represents an ultra-right-wing Political 'think-tank' that has actively encouraged, lobbied and brought via Parliament policy initiatives that for the last 20 years have affected the lives of every UK Citizen.Did you actually bother to read the content of my concerns? Or did you just want to make 'a very dull and tired' quip about the socio-political development of the UK?Afterall, those people needing 'saving' that Ms Kirby was referring to are a product of those last 20 years: Or, do you think they just appeared overnight?Of course PM Thatcher's Government are not enitrely responsible for the ills of the world, anymore than Wilson, Heath, Callaghan before her era and Major, Blair, Brown after it. As someone said several centuries ago, "The poor are always with us."Then again, the society we are presently living in is the one we can act on behalf of which is what the Charities certainly aim to do; Ms Kirby's Centre for Policy Studies on the other hand, is acting for specific interest-groups, none of which have one iota of charitable concern in their highly politicised lobbying intentions.You may not agree or want Charities to voice any concerns about how Government 'policies' affect those people needing charitable aid, but, that is not how the modern political processes work, therefore, you'll just have to get over it! Wed 08 Apr 2009 16:22:18 GMT+1 ThereYouGoAgain Mark, you write: "In this context, the argument goes, it would be "unfair" if the very poor were to suffer the consequences of the sins of the very rich."And that idea of "fairness" has real political resonance right now. Oxfam writes of the need "to build the foundations for future recovery on a fairer, more sustainable basis"."I'm not sure how the very poor suffer in a recession. Do their benefits or services change? As far as I can tell, the people who are going to lose out in this are all the people in between the very poor and the very rich who will be losing their jobs, seeing their standard of living decline, their pensions go into meltdown and be left with a vast legacy of debt. Wed 08 Apr 2009 15:13:22 GMT+1 ThereYouGoAgain #6 & #8 - Would you dispute the point that Jill Kirby makes - "The most important added value that a charity can provide, which a politician cannot provide, is to be out there actually saving lives, saving children, being there for those who need them."Or did you both just want to make a very dull and tired anti-Thatcher remark? She left power 20 years ago, get over it. Wed 08 Apr 2009 15:08:03 GMT+1 BBrennan The reality is that a vast number of largely left-leaning (or sometimes outright socialist) / anti-freedom 'charities' are funded by the Government. has the details of some.The worst are people like Ash, who receive almost no public donations, but are simply a front for illiberal elements in the Dept of Health (and I say this as someone who hates smoking!).This is completely wrong - the media is always citing as 'news' some campaign by a charity to make the taxpayer spend more money on yet another 'good' cause. They should all receive the Paxman treatment - what type of spending should be cut to pay for it (none of the usual 'cut defence / police / quango nonsense allowed - they have to detail precisely what it is should be cut and why). In the absence of this, they should get no airtime and no time from any government Minister or official.And they should get no public funding, not more - those who are paid to provide services must rid themselves of their lobbying arms or be ineligible. Wed 08 Apr 2009 14:44:56 GMT+1 danhaut "When I gave food to the poor, they called me a saint. When I asked why the poor were hungry, they called me a communist."It will be difficult in these days and age to find an NGO among those mentioned which can be called communist. They have all more or less embraced the neoliberal agenda. If NGOs want to be involved in politics, they should have the same legitimacy as any political party, in explaining clearly how they will reach their objectives, and relying on donations from their supporters and not from their or other governments. The fact that they try to relieve poverty should not exclude scrutiny of the means used to that end. Wed 08 Apr 2009 14:26:58 GMT+1 FearlessBobLatchford It's a bit rich coming from the Centre for Policy Studies... the opening page of its website has the line: "The Centre was founded by Sir Keith Joseph and Margaret Thatcher in 1974..."!!!!!!!!! Wed 08 Apr 2009 14:08:04 GMT+1 procharity Surely the point is that a successful campaigning charity can prod the government into spending much more money on services than any charity could ever do by itself? One of my favourite charities has managed to get the government to put £770 million extra into disabled children's services. I don't think the children and families whose lives will be made a bit easier as a result would appreciate being told by ideological moaning minnies that that this is "too political". Wed 08 Apr 2009 13:43:06 GMT+1 ikamaskeip Jill Kirby of the 'right-leaning' think-tank may well conclude the charities are overstepping the mark with "..shameless political campaigning..", but, then she would say that wouldn't she?She would much rather the corridors of Westminster Parliament were freed up for the immensely powerful arms manufacturers, deregulating bank-investment interests etc.. You know, all those Global lobbying groups who have done so much good for the World at large and especially those millions she pleadingly refers the Charities to needing, "..saving lives, saving children, being there for those who need them.."She certainly wont want to read, hear or accept that the "..greedy rich have cheated decent, working people of their share of the pie.."The Centre For Policy Studies: The group that backed PM Thatcher's destruction of UK mines, mills, manufacturing; the clever thinkers who came up with the policy of as former Conservative PM MacMillan put it, "..selling off the family jewels.." when referring to the policy of de-Nationalisation; a bright bunch of pro-Nuclear Energy, pro-unfettered Free Enterprise Capitalism and the idea that 'Social change' is better led by "Market Forces"...Why the UK is literally littered with the evidence of the successes of their preferred 'thinking' and lobbying!Oh yes! After 20 or so years, don't you just love their triumph of Private reasoning and self-first over Community and Public responsibility!? Wed 08 Apr 2009 13:12:06 GMT+1 doug-on-the-right Some charities appear to have forgotten that some of their contributors choose to donate not only because they believe in the causes espoused by those charities, whatever they may be, but also because they believe that the appropriate means to address these needs is through collective private action arising from the free choice of the donors, not through legal coercion. By turning their attention to political lobbying and diverting financial resources from the causes their benefactors support, these charities risk alienating the people who fill their coffers. Wed 08 Apr 2009 13:08:46 GMT+1 John Ellis very double edged this one. the charities must be allowed to lobby issues that on the whole are either overlooked by government or simply ignored with the message 'they should help themselves'.As long as the charities do not try to influence party politics and remain neutral within the political system then there influence in such matters can only be good surely? Wed 08 Apr 2009 12:55:28 GMT+1 MorpethExile I think the lack of comment here shows exactly why it's wrong to fund political lobbying in the charitable sector.The public are broadly quite generous with most charities but pay little attention to the definition most charities are single issue lobbyists and governments of any persuasion will inevitably back the vote winning causes.I volunteer for several charities both local and national, of these the most needy and most difficult to promote is in the area of Mental Health, a massively underfunded sector which is never going to be electorally 'sexy'. The proportion of political funding coming our way is derisory. Wed 08 Apr 2009 12:51:06 GMT+1 chipshopshippers I agree with you and the first post regarding how media should represent more political charities. There's actually a very important point that has unintentionally entered your report here Mark - highlighting the political leaning of the Think Tank ("Jill Kirby, from the right-leaning think tank Centre for Policy Studies"), but not doing the same thing for the various charities involved.Clearly a desire to end something like say, child poverty is an apolitical aspiration, but how it is done, and indeed the definition of "poverty" (financial, educational, social), can have very strong political leanings.I've often felt this to be one of the biggest biases attached to journalism in general, BBC and others. Whether it's Barnados when discussing children, or the Howard League for Penal reform when it comes to the prison system, they are always portrayed as the "Experts" and no mention of political leaning is discussed. The viewer/listener is expected to assume the expert is taking a balanced centrist view - clearly this is not always going to be the case.The biggest danger that I see coming from this proposal to fund charities for political campaigning, is who gets to decide which charities get funding? If it's the government (of whatever colour) this could easily just end up as a proxy state propaganda tool (dressed up as independent) - because they are simply going to give money to charities whose views reflect their own! Wed 08 Apr 2009 12:48:56 GMT+1 jon112uk Without getting into comments on the actual politics of the 'charities' I think you are right on this one.Similar questions have arisen about the role of the charities during the Israel/Hamas/Gaza conflict, or in Afghanistan - were the charities there to provide aid or to campaign?Surely if they move from a neutral high ground then the media response to them must change? If you interview a neutral person, there on the ground only to do good, then you might interview them in a sympathetic, uncritical, manner. But if the charity is a partisan, political campaigner then shouldn't they be interviewed and reported in the same challenging and critical aproach as you would any politician? Wed 08 Apr 2009 12:11:18 GMT+1