Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

IF It Were Possible to Transfer Money [...]

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

IF It Were Possible to Transfer Money [...]

Article excerpt

IF it were possible to transfer money into the right hands, how much would it take to end extreme poverty? About $159 billion a year according to the World Bank, less than 0.2% of global GDP.

Ending poverty then, if it were just about money, is easy but measuring it accurately is the problem.

I'll be in Oxford on Monday - the UN International Day for the Eradication of Poverty - visiting a friend involved with the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI).

OPHI advocates a multi-dimensional measure of poverty including health, nutrition, education, sanitation, employment, transport, social isolation; a range of living standards which together give a truer picture of poverty.

OPHI has been lobbying the World Bank to broaden its definition of poverty. The World Bank is sitting on an eagerly awaited potentially groundbreaking report, written by British economist Professor Anthony Atkinson, which will show if the Bank has had a rethink on what poverty is and how to tackle it.

The debate on UK poverty has become politically polarised. OPHI also advises The Social Metrics Commission, an independent UK charity recommending new poverty measures to act as a counterweight to the cost-cutting orthodoxy of the Treasury.

The Institute of Fiscal Studies warns that levels of child poverty are set to rise by 50% in the next few years. More than a quarter of the UK's children grow up in households with less than 60% of the median income. Poverty in childhood can be a life sentence; early development, health, emotional wellbeing, educational achievements and life expectancy are all compromised. This is where social and economic reform should start.

The UK is currently the 37th most equal country in the world (from data on 145 of 196 of the world's countries). That makes it a more equal country than the US and Japan but less equal than France, Germany and most Scandinavian countries.

Individual cities vary in their equality. Research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation reveals that London is the most unequal, while Sunderland - Brexit heartland - is the most equal.

It is the prevailing poverty of spirit that is vexing me at the moment. …

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