The following letter was published in the Guardian last week:
The Riots Communities and Victims Panel calls poverty a key factor that can lead to a person’s involvement in crime. The panel recommends that efforts are made to improve young people’s resistance to the peer pressure that leads them astray. That does not get to the bottom of the problem. Nowhere in the report is there any mention of the actual level of weekly income at which young people live in poverty.
A single unemployed parent has to live on a shrinking jobseeker’s allowance of £67.50 a week, or £53.45 for those aged 18-25, or on the national minimum wage, a poverty wage in London that is also shrinking. The word “debt”, and its debilitating effects on parents and children in poverty, never appears in the report. It damages nutrition, an essential ingredient of healthy babies and a good education, which is likewise ignored. Blaming the schools misses the target. Parliament needs to wake up to the fact that the current system of social security is not fit for purpose.
There will continue to be impoverished young people who, because survival and inequality are massive issues in this very expensive economy, will turn to crime.
Rev Paul Nicolson