Prof Philip Booth, Editorial Director, IEA;
Janet Daley, Columnist, Sunday Telegraph;
Baron Glasman of Stoke Newington and of Stamford Hill, Senior Lecturer in Political Theory, London Guildhall University;
Chris Goulden, Head of Poverty Team, Policy and Research, Joseph Rowntree Foundation;
Kristian Niemietz, Poverty Research Fellow, IEA
For the last generation, governments tried to deal with the problem of poverty through income transfers. This manifested itself especially during the period from 1997 to 2010 when there were huge increases in benefits paid to less-well-off households. By 2010, government spending as a proportion of national income had risen to over 50% and the extent of redistribution through the welfare system was as great in the UK as in Sweden. However, all parties have tended to ignore the crucial role of living costs in reducing poverty. Real incomes are determined by both incomes and prices. In particular, the poverty lobby is almost absent from any discussions about how government regulation raises living costs for the poor by raising house prices, food costs, energy bills, childcare costs and the prices of cigarettes and alcohol. This is despite the fact that it is clear that housing and food prices, in particular, are a long way out of line with those in similar countries in Europe.