In the 1940s Sir William Beveridge set out a blueprint for the government to follow which would banish the ‘giant evils’ of want, disease, squalor, ignorance and idleness from Britain. Half a century later, and despite the creation of a welfare state, Britain remains a society plagued by social inequalities. Britain has the fourth largest economy in the world and yet some of its people live impoverished lives in both town and country. Even with some of the trappings of affluence, their lives have all the characteristics of an excluded class. Should the existence of an excluded underclass, seemingly impervious to assistance from well-intentioned politicians, be accepted as inevitable, as in the old adage, ‘the poor are always with us’? Or can government policy transform the lives of the poor by incorporating them into the mainstream of society? The chapter assesses the causes of poverty, examines New Labour policy, and concludes by considering what some argue is a new poverty crisis in the making.
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- Tackling poverty and exclusion
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- Chapter 23