“While this report is right to point out that the Covid-19 pandemic has worsened the financial position of many poorer people, the use of relative rather than absolute poverty measures obscures the true picture of poverty in the UK.
“The focus on getting people back to work is a good one, however the interventionist measures it advocates are unlikely to achieve this.
“The report recommends bringing forward the Employment Bill. This proposed a range of measures to increase employment ‘rights’, which would make employing low-paid workers less attractive to businesses while failing to target the most disadvantaged workers.
“Proposals to increase government training schemes (which rarely achieve very much), a boost to the National Living Wage, and the creation of ‘good quality new jobs’ (without specifying how this can be done), together with an across-the-board increase in benefits, more state-funded childcare and building more low cost housing, constitute a costly and unrealistic wish list in the current climate.
“The priority of the government should be to get us out of the restrictions imposed on the economy by the pandemic as quickly as is safely possible, and then to look at ways in which stifling regulation on housebuilding, occupational licensing and many other matters can be reduced to encourage a market-led rather than state-led recovery.”
Notes to editors
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To read IEA Head of Political Economy Dr Kristian Niemietz’s report, ‘Reducing poverty through policies to cut the cost of living’, written for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, click here.
The mission of the Institute of Economic Affairs is to improve understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society by analysing and expounding the role of markets in solving economic and social problems. The IEA is a registered educational charity and independent of all political parties.