Getting people out of low income


The best way out of poverty is a job. The best way out of low income is a better paid job.

So how can we help more achieve these successes in life?

It starts in school. Some state schools offer a great ladder for children from low income households. Others do  not. This government is working on improvements.

It carries on after school. More people do well in life who make it to university or College to get further qualifications. We need to consider better access for all with the talent and energy to the best in post 18 education.

It continues over spending and investing. If you save and invest wisely, if you buy your own home early in life, you give yourself much more chance of financial success.

It can be a question of whether you have the confidence and the skills to run your own business or not. There can be better rewards for the plumber, the lawyer, the business consultant or the driver if you work for yourself and build up your own business. There are also more hazards and hurdles to leap.

So how can government help?

Should government intervene more in the early years, when disadvantaged children can be let down at home which make s school difficult?


  1. Lifelogic
    May 4, 2014

    Well, life is not fair never was and never will be. If you have been born in counties that have some stability, democracy and no shortages of food and clean water, has reasonable health care and you are healthy then you are doing very well in the lottery that is life already.

    Clearly contrary to the PC, “BBC think”, lefty view of the world IQ is highly heritable perhaps 70% or so (as studies of identical twins even ones brought up apart show).

    My view is that education can give you knowledge, polish and skills but rarely makes you much cleverer. Some uneducated people (in the tradition sense) can be very clever. Engineers and mechanics with no formal education for example.

    Also what is clever? David Beckham football skills are all controlled by his brain, timing his passes, coordinating his timing, analysing the input date from his eyes and ears, deciding what position to take on the field and how much spin/curve to put on the ball, how wet the grass is, which players to mark ……. it is to a large degree a form of high intelligence.

    Clearly is is a shame if Freeman Dyson, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman types are not used in areas where there skills are used to the fore but one suspects they would have fought through to the top of their fields anyway.

    We have far too many over paid lawyers already the legal system needs reform to discourage them am much as possible so they can get a more productive job. We could manage far better with only 10% of them as many countries do. A sensible, simpler, quicker and fairer legal system (and tax system) would be a good move for a start. Court systems need to be designed by people who understand game theory and the interests of the users. They are currently designed to encourage litigation and for the benefit of lawyers. There is little lawyers do that it not quite simple in general once you know your way round the idiotic system.

    We have a division between jobs that can be done by the minimum wage immigrants (with Cameron’s EU open door immigration policy) and those than need good English and particular skills/qualifications or more likely good contacts to get a foot in. Things like the BBC, MPs, the law, higher areas of the civil service, academia ….

    The other problem is the benefit system which at the lower income areas means an increase in salary make very little difference to your net income – so why bother to do the extra hours or go for promotion? If it all goes in tax and reduced benefits anyway?

    1. Lifelogic
      May 4, 2014

      Also if government keeps keep paying (healthy) people to do nothing and be feckless we will get more and more of them and they will never learn to do anything else.

      The policy is immoral and hugely damaging to them and the country.

      1. Hope
        May 4, 2014

        JR did not include the in work benefits that come with low paid jobs which attracts immigration and large corporations to want it continue as it is subsidise labour.

        School system needs to change radically back to a tiered system rather than all inclusive. All inclusive gives a veneer that it is fair, but it is not, it brings all standards down for everyone. Children have a range of abilities that need to be catered for. Grammar schools did not leave people behind, those who did not get into Grammar schools should have had their needs met by being provided with skills for trades. Not everyone needs to be a professional or go to university. That snooty think needs to be dispelled not a tiered system of education. Better to provide some children with skills for life to provide them a living rather than no outlook on the welfare where it pays to be out of work. The coalition has failed to reduce the welfare cap to a sensible level. Millions of people earn less than £26,000 and why should see people get more than pensioners who paid into the tax pot all their lives?

        Non contributory benefit system has aided and abetted mass immigration and Cameron knew it when he made his false pledge to reduce immigration and he also knew he could do nothing to prevent or control immigration from the EU. He cannot be trusted.

    2. Lifelogic
      May 4, 2014

      Keeping all the old batty religions and the new green crap out of schools might be a good plan too. Or at least explaining in science and economics (with the real numbers) why onshore and offshore wind, PV roof panels, HS trains and similar, with current technology, are a very good way to make everyone poorer.

      I find even quite bright children come out of our schools having swallowed all the green crap pushed at them whole.

    3. Tad Davison
      May 4, 2014

      I can think of better examples than the one you mention LL. His ‘genious’ if that’s what it is, wasn’t in his football, others were far better. It’s in his ability for self-promotion and being famous for being famous. It’s self-fulfilling. With the help of newspapers like the Daily Express that keep him in the public eye, he is able to keep channelling money into his own pocket. (etc ed)

      My son and I once met Ferenc Puskas in the central lobby of the House of Commons. He was a far better player, but died in poverty because he didn’t have the other one’s luck. True talent deserves reward and encouragement but I never have been one for giving praise because it’s the fasionable thing to do.


    4. Alte Fritz
      May 4, 2014

      If life is not fair, then how can the legal system be fair? A legal system is largely a reflection of the nation which uses it. Speaking as a lawyer (there, I said it) the main problem is that we have too many laws and the law tries to affect too many spheres of life. The legal system cannot be a substitute for a well shaped and wel governed society.

      1. Lifelogic
        May 4, 2014

        Well the system needs to deter litigation in general, there needs to be a sensible balance of risk and reward and sensible system of costs. If you have a system which say heads you win tales you do not lose much – but the defendant still does – you end up with endless absurd litigation.

        This is exactly what the lawyers and courts want fee income. They want an imbalance in risk reward to encourage endless plaintiffs and a slow, costly, multilevel and largely (lottery) or arbitrary outcomes.

        Users want quick, cheap, predictable and a decisive one level of court. A system that encourages settlement before action.

        We clearly have the former in spades. We make care in perhaps 1/50 of the time it used to take but out legal systems have become less efficient, more expensive, more arbitrary, multilevel and absurdly slow.

        1. Lifelogic
          May 4, 2014

          Sorry “we make cars in 1/50 of the time it used to take but our legal systems …….”

      2. Lifelogic
        May 5, 2014

        Indeed far too many idiotic and idiotically complex laws. The real problem is the balance of risk in litigation and employment actions. The no win no fee whiplash types of scams. Also the risk on costs are not sensibly distributed.

        Lawyers in divorce cases quite often exacerbate matters hugely in the interest of fee income. No one in large businesses seems to be able to do anything without lawyers, HR experts and compliance officers to help them. It all makes things hugely inefficient and slower.

        At least we are not yet as bad as the US which has 16 times the number of lawyer per capita as Japan.

    5. uanime5
      May 6, 2014

      Also what is clever? David Beckham football skills are all controlled by his brain, timing his passes, coordinating his timing, analysing the input date from his eyes and ears, deciding what position to take on the field and how much spin/curve to put on the ball, how wet the grass is, which players to mark ……. it is to a large degree a form of high intelligence.

      Motor skills are not an example of cleverness. If it was the acrobats would be some of the cleverest people on the planet.

      I’d say a talent could only be considered related to cleverness if a person could perform it even if they were a brain in a jar connected to a device that allows communication.

      We could manage far better with only 10% of them as many countries do.

      Care to name some of these countries that have only 10% of the UK lawyers. Countries that only have 10% of the UK’s population or less don’t count.

      Court systems need to be designed by people who understand game theory and the interests of the users.

      According to game theory in an enterprise involving multiple criminals these criminals are more likely to confess in exchange for a lighter sentence, even though it will benefit them more if they all don’t cooperate with the police, because they’ll suffer more than their companions if they’re the only one who doesn’t confess. So a court based on game theory is one that gives lighter sentences in exchange for testimony; something the UK already does.

      They are currently designed to encourage litigation and for the benefit of lawyers.

      The law society has proposed that courts should be made more inquisitorial, like the courts on the continent, so that lawyers cannot delay proceedings.

      There is little lawyers do that it not quite simple in general once you know your way round the idiotic system.

      Then why a complex fraud cause end up being postponed because they couldn’t find enough lawyers? If seems that for some cases you do need an expert.

      The other problem is the benefit system which at the lower income areas means an increase in salary make very little difference to your net income – so why bother to do the extra hours or go for promotion? If it all goes in tax and reduced benefits anyway?

      According to the government’s benefit calculator most people who claim benefits would be much better off in work. I’ve left the link below; you select a series of benefits, then see if this person will be better off it work.

      Also one of the benefits of Universal Credit was that it allowed benefits to be withdrawn at a specific rate so that people in work would always be better off it they were paid more.

  2. Mike Stallard
    May 4, 2014

    Our local comprehensive is now much better. It is like a very efficient girls school. Most of the staff seem to be ladies of a certain age. The aim is simple: more exam results. It is orderly. Nobody from outside is welcome inside. Even the school football team has a token girl in it. The exam results are improving.
    Once boys left at 15 and went to work where they were trained by people on the job. Now they go to College where they are trained by more teachers in trades which they choose. This is an improvement on a couple of years ago when they went to yet more ladies of a certain age for literacy and numeracy classes.
    It is much improved. I just wish I could get in there and help!

  3. zorro
    May 4, 2014

    1. Control population growth in accordance with what can be provided vis a vis infrastructure. Owning property in places where there is work is a dream for some people.
    2. Control government spending and let people keep more of their own money.
    3. Encourage excellence through selective schooling for academic and vocational training. Do not have ‘targets’ for university attendance. All roles have relative value in society and vocational qualifications are important. Do not rely on ‘cheap’ imported labour to do lower skilled jobs. It still costs the taxpayer in the long run and adds to population.
    4. Do not subsidise people to have children apart from a basic allowance. Encourage families by supporting them and not alternative lifestyles.
    5. Build sustainable communities where people can belong. We are becoming too disjointed as a society.


    1. Narrow Shoulders
      May 5, 2014

      Put a nice blue cover on this post and make it the forward to the 2015 Conservative manifesto. Back it up with deliverable policies and watch the country return a majority Conservative government (deliverables such as these may even make the Scots vote no too).

  4. margaret brandreth-j
    May 4, 2014

    There is more to starting a business than working hard.There is more to success than ability and qualifications. Universities themselves perpetuate silly competition.You know the expression but WHICH university did you go to. You can have Oxford Dons teaching the methods in which they were Taught, you can read the same texts as other undergraduates, but if you did not read in such and such a building these texts are somehow inferior.
    Personal skills are required. An ability to brush off negative competition is required; without shouting abuse , an ability to ‘creep’ to the right people .The ability to know who to trust is needed These facts of life are difficult to learn,yet contribute considerably to success.

  5. Antisthenes
    May 4, 2014

    State education has been in a mess ever since grammar schools were phased out in preference to comprehensives. At least grammar schools did give some able children from poorer backgrounds a chance. The system may have not been perfect but rather than build on their success a completes dogs dinner was brought into replace them. Lefty progressives are the scourge of all democratic societies and instead of them being allowed to dominate them they should have been exposed as fools, cranks and non customer friendly and not encouraged and a label hung round their necksstating they are “dangerous to any who expire to excellence or want the best for themselves and others”.

  6. alan jutson
    May 4, 2014

    It does not start at School John, it starts at home.

    The early formative years are so very important, as a child you learn from your parents first because they are the ones who you spend most time with, or at least this used to be the case. Now many go to nursery, child minders, or even grandparents, so they learn their values, rather than their parents values.

    Schools are of course important, and with the system we have at the moment we have variable quality, from very poor to very good, which certainly can depend upon the area in which you live.

    All Schools should be able to offer the very basic need to educate everyone to be fit to work as a first priority, then to build upon that basic knowledge to extend the learning into other areas.
    I see absolutely no reason why Schools cannot open at 8.00 for breakfast and run through to 6.00 in the evening (completing self study home work in a controlled environment), of course this would mean modifying the staffing levels and hours, thus avoiding the latch key syndrome.

    A choice of further education should be available to everyone who wants it, and is fit for it. Sadly over the past decades governments of all colours have had a University or nothing blind spot.
    The technical colleges of old produced an excellent learning centre for millions who had academic talent, but who also had a greater leaning and INTEREST towards design, or practical skills, trades and work, with City and Guilds, HNC, and HND qualifications, whilst at the same time working and earning a wage, instead of getting into massive amounts of debt.

    Until a real choice is given to students, then we as a Country will continue to flounder.

    Unfortunately lessons have not been learnt.

  7. A different Simon
    May 4, 2014

    How about the Govt stopping the bankers from using their monopoly position to issue credit as a weapon t0 puff property prices , debts , education etc out of reach ?

    Until that is done , all that will happen is that wage rises will feed through into higher rents and house prices and therefore profits for mortgage lenders – to say nothing of increasing housing benefit costs .

    Increasing wages without putting measures in place to ensure that the increase circulates within the economy rather than goes straight to the banks would be negligent .

    The system is on the point of collapsing Mr Redwood yet your government steadfastly refuses to do anything about it .

  8. Mark B
    May 4, 2014

    John Redwood MP said;
    “So how can government help?”

    The last body that people need help from, is the Government.

    Any Government that has the power to give you all you want, also has the power to take it away.

    1. Lifelogic
      May 4, 2014

      They can help by getting out of the way, halving their size and stop pissing money down the drain on expensive energy, electric cars, HS2 , the EU and endless other expensive drivel.

  9. alan jutson
    May 4, 2014

    Purchasing your own house is best ?

    Yes financially so far history has proven this correct, but due to the high cost of moving (stamp duty etc) if you purchase, you loose some flexibility to move around in the early stages of your life to search for the best employment opportunities.

    Thus with the Government searching every avenue to raise tax and claw in every penny, they have distorted the housing market.
    They then came up with a quick fix solution (mortgage guarantees) which distorted the market even further.

    Self employment certainly is a way forward for some, but the present system of signing on and signing off and the subsequent waiting and delays in benefits that this causes, actually dissuades people from this type of employment as well as from perhaps temporary working.

    The present tax system does not encourage self employment or the setting up of your own business, as there is far too much red tape involved (employment laws, work status responsibility), and far too much time needs to be spent simply filling in endless forms and tax returns, a monthly task in the construction industry.

    For decades successive governments have hounded the Self employed with all sorts of legislation and regulation to try and curb their existence, IR35, one source of income restrictions etc etc.

    It would seem that Politicians do not like self employed people, because this group of people tend to think for themselves, and as a result many people who may have chosen to become self employed and perhaps then grown into a business, have failed to jump the first hurdle.

    1. Lifelogic
      May 4, 2014

      Buying is not always best at all. Especially with all the stamp duty and costs of purchase. It is only best if you live in an area that is increasing in popularity and and to stay there for a longish time.

      Rent is no more dead money than interest on a mortgage is dead money.

  10. Jennifer A
    May 4, 2014

    “Should a government intervene in early years… at home… ?”

    I assume this is playing Devil’s advocate. At least I hope so. It opens the door for something rather sinister. All main parties have helped chisel away at the foundations of marriage and encouraged single parenting through the tax and benefit system.

    Then there is the abandonment of border control. Its effect on wages, housing supply and in classrooms where English is no longer the main language.

    This ensures that there will always be poor people in Britain.

    1. Jennifer A
      May 4, 2014

      What a sorry state when we describe a child raised in a stable home as ‘advantaged’.

  11. Brian Tomkinson
    May 4, 2014

    JR: “So how can government help?”
    “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.'” – Ronald Reagan

  12. acorn
    May 4, 2014

    Exactly where are all these better paid jobs going to come from. Seventy percent of the UK economy has gone ex growth since 2008. A very large part of that of that is the FIRE department (finance; insurance and real estate). Health and Education have gone ex growth as well thanks to Mr Osborne.

    The real estate bit, you have managed to blow into a bubble by creating demand without the supply by not understanding how the money system works; or, alternatively, just trying to buy votes.

    Anyway, if the snooker finishes early, try and learn what the insiders know about money. etc ed

  13. Richard1
    May 4, 2014

    As I understand it the preschool years are the most important. That’s the most difficult for the state to provide support. Perhaps the pupil premium should be focused as far as possible on the earliest possible years.

  14. Anonymous
    May 4, 2014

    News that top schools must admit 10% of children from free school meals households:

    There should be more grammar schools but not even the Tories will provide them.

    So what are we to infer other than that this is anti-aspirational ? Social climbing rarely comes in one generational bound so what of the families just about to make the step up after decades of hard work, now that they’re finally successful enough to do it ?

    Will the Tories – of all people – allow them to be shunted out of the way ?

    (It’s often the case that those receiving free school meals are better off in real terms than those not receiving them.)

  15. Richard1
    May 4, 2014

    Obviously experience shows that one of the best ways to promote long term prosperity is to avoid Labour governments. Can it really be right that Blair and the Labour Party are able to conspire to suppress publication of the Chilcott Report until after the election as it will remind voters of the Labour cabinet’s disastrous decision to go to war in Iraq? In fact we also need enquiries into other Labour disasters such as the sale of the gold and of course the financial crisis and the Great Recession. We need to learn the lessons.

    1. Tad Davison
      May 4, 2014

      Amen to that Richard!

      As someone who has given written evidence to the Chilcott enquiry, which in my view shows that the Blair government knew all along their claim that WMD’s were at 40 minutes readiness to be used against us, was wholly false and misleading. Consequently, I am disgusted that the publication of the report is so late.

      Surely the present government have much to gain from the report’s early publication, and should be pressing hard for it, but alas, no. The phrase used by Mr Cameron ‘We’re all in this together’ never seemed so apt.


    2. sjb
      May 4, 2014

      There is a legal requirement to inform individuals criticised in a HMG report well in advance of publication. Blair, Straw and other key figures have yet to receive the relevant notification.

      Perhaps it may have slipped your mind that 139 Labour MPs + 53 LibDem MPs voted against the Iraq war; Conservative MPs did not, save for fifteen such as Ken Clarke, Gummer, and Ian Taylor.[1] Have you considered that it may be another party that is attempting to suppress the report’s publication until after the 2015 GE?


      1. Richard1
        May 5, 2014

        That is true. Remember though that we were told at the time by the Labour government that Iraq was a direct threat to the UK. I supported the Iraq war decision in 03 and would also have voted for it because of this. In retrospect we see that was completely wrong, but no one has been held to account for the catastrophic failure of intelligence and of judgment. Nor is only the decision that was wrong but the whole conduct of the war, the mission creep, the inadequate provision of troops etc. Iraq is by far the greatest foreign policy failure of the UK at least since Munich. We need a complete picture of the disaster so as to avoid them in future.

        Unfortunately Afghanistan looks much the same. It was right to support the US in retaliating for 9/11, but the mission creep, hubris and incompetence which has led to the failure we now have should also be the subject of a Chilcott style inquiry.

        1. A different Simon
          May 5, 2014

          Do you think Anthony Blair ever has self doubts ?

          Could he be one of those people who rationalises his decisions no matter how reprehensible they may be ?

  16. Iain Gill
    May 4, 2014

    There should be no poverty in a country spending so much on social benefits.
    • Which just goes to show how bad the state is at spending money, and far more of it should be handed over to individual citizens to spend as they choose. Real power to the citizenry would be good for everyone.
    There should be far less joblessness in a country where jobs are being created. Far more of our own people should take up the jobs on offer.
    • We need much more geographic workforce mobility. That means remove the barriers of the social housing sector which stop people moving once they are allocated a decent house. That means not manipulating the housing sector so that more people feel comfortable in the rented sector and are able to move for work more quickly and more frequently. That means the state stopping subsidising large housing estates in areas where there is no longer a jobs market, and allow the individual citizens take their housing subsidy where they like.
    • We need far less immigration, and the broad business equations should not make it cheaper to use imported workforces over our own population.
    • Houses should be a two way bet, in an economy where the state didn’t constantly manipulate the market they wouldn’t be such a one way bet and your advice to buy young would not be best for everyone.
    Quality of services everyone gets should be much higher.
    • So yes everyone should be getting decent schooling, healthcare, housing, and so on, indeed they should be getting much higher standards than they are now. The only way this is going to happen is to turn the buying decisions over to the individual citizens… allow them to choose their own GP anywhere anytime, their own childrens school let them have money to spend, in housing give them their own subsidy to control. Get the state out of owning and running services and let the people deciding where to take their school, healthcare, housing spend force the providers to constantly optimise and adapt to the populations needs.
    Re “how can we help more achieve these successes in life?” top of the agenda has got to be the sink schools. I know schools that have been sink schools for at least 40 years and they are still sink schools. Parents are forced to use these schools. We need emergency measures, this is like war being declared on our people to provide rubbish education, get tanks on the lawns of these schools over the weekend and take them over now! Real radical action. What stops this happening? And then also start giving the parents real buying power. Allow new providers of schooling to enter the market.
    Re ” if you buy your own home early in life, you give yourself much more chance of financial success” there should be, and will be, house price crashes, people often do better being able to move for work, your advice should not hold true so absolutely in a functioning economy where the state was not manipulating the market. It should be possible, on average, to save the value of a house and interest rates in the bank keep broadly in line with rising house price values, the way it works here is just the state stealing from savers to subsidise those with mortgages this is not what government is for!
    Re “better rewards if you work for yourself” for small scale businesses largely because they have more flexibility around what they can claim as expenses, can take out money as dividends rather than income, and other wheezes. Which just goes to show how much PAYE rips off people in comparison?
    Re “Should government intervene more in the early years, when disadvantaged children can be let down at home which makes school difficult?” before complaining about home life I suggest the state gets its own house in order first. You need to make the sink schools a whole lot better. Sure a lot more kids should be taken away from bad parents, indeed some of the big criminal families are bringing their children up with an apprenticeship in the criminal underworld, the state knows this is going on it really should be stopped. Many of the less good parents are that way because of the rubbish education they had themselves at the hands of the state, fix the schools first! Simple stuff like teaching infants languages needs to start now it is crazy trying to start language education at 13 years old.
    In general needy people need help. The help should generally be in the form of monetary power they control and are able to take to any provider they choose, to force the providers to adapt to the consumers. The state should not be subsidising those who are not needy, rich people in social housing, rich people getting “help to buy”, and so on. And the state should not be redistributing from the poor to the rich, ripping off modest savers to prop up mortgages for those much better off and so on. The state should not be manipulating the market to prop up house prices.
    Hand power to the citizens and away from the state is the best way to help.

  17. Nick
    May 4, 2014

    There are those that make and there are those that take. John Redwood is firmly in the second category despite any protests to the contrary. He doesn’t make he takes from people.

    Now look at the poor. is an accurate tax calculator. Put in min wage or living wage, 40 hour week and see just how much John Redwood takes from the makers. It’s obscene.

    Now look the fundamental truth. To get richer, you need to spend less than comes in, and invest the surplus. For the poor they do have a surplus, it’s their total NI contributions. For a 26K a year worker, its over 5K a year. 18.5% gets taken by John and his ilk. That surplus is then spent and not invested.

    Now if that median wage earner, who is hardly rich had invested their NI at retirement they would have had 836K in a fund and an income of 28K a year from dividends alone. They would only have a share of the state borrowing at 40K. They would be very comfortably off, and with a legacy to pass on.

    John Redwood’s set up is that they have no assets, 5.7K a year, and a 300K share of the total state debt.

    That’s why John Redwood cannot make good on his election promise to reveal the state’s pensions debts.

    So the poor are poor because those that take have made them poor.

    The solution is to stop taking.

    John Redwood can’t do that, because of the extent of that pensions debts.

    Reply I have set out the pension debts before on this site. Try looking it up.

  18. Roger Farmer
    May 4, 2014

    Government have helped in the past. They tried to destroy all Grammar Schools. They took away the Direct Grant System. They downgraded the exam system so that everyone could call themselves a winner. They tried to destroy competitive sport in the education system. They are busily indebting all those worthy of a university education. Just now we have (questions over the conduct of schools ed) in Birmingham and no doubt elsewhere. What more would interfering
    politicians like to do to ensure the further destruction of education, that basic building block to the success of the individual and the country.
    I will tell you of something positive from my own alma mater, a place of academic and sporting achievement that can stand alongside any educational establishment in the country. We have a fund, contributed to by old boys, for the express purpose of paying for the education of boys of parents who could not otherwise afford the fees. Of the 700 plus boys at the school we hope shortly to cover the cost of 100 of them via this trust fund.
    Were government to get rid of it’s own administration of education at national and local level, plus a few quangos as yet awaiting the bonfire, we as a nation might then find the funds to extend such a scheme to all pupils of talent. Not to overlook the crying need for far more extensive facilities for technical education, and the education of the seriously disadvantaged. Do you think any government could apply such simple common sense, I doubt it. The thin lipped, politically correct, dumbers down are more likely to be wondering how they can alter trust law to screw up the good that is being done despite them.-

    1. Tad Davison
      May 4, 2014

      That’s a good post Roger!


  19. English Pensioner
    May 4, 2014

    The attitude of parents seem to have changed since the days when I was at school. Then, it seemed that all parents were anxious for their child to get on in the world and do better than they had done themselves. This seemed to apply right across the board and not just the better off parents. At the grammar school I attended, we had pupils whose parents had a wide range of occupations, and judging from where some lived, they were obviously quite poor. But they all seemed to have ambition and pushed their children to get on. Perhaps it was the aftermath of the war that resulted in this attitude.
    But now this urge to get on seems to have been lost amongst certain groups of people, and it is difficult to decide whether this is due to benefits, more single parent families or lack of encouragement by both parents or schools.
    The lack of Technical Colleges and emphasis on university is, I believe, a mistake. Many non-academic children went to technical college, as I did, and got on in the world by combining a technical education with practical skills. It was possible to get qualifications which were equivalent to a degree and sought after by employers, or to simply learn a trade if that was one’s choice. Most countries still have technical colleges and engineers from these are generally in demand, Why don’t we do the same?

  20. behindthefrogs
    May 4, 2014

    Firstly we need to look at increasing the income of those earning the least.
    1) Stop taxing anyone who earns less than the minimum wage, preferably the living wage. This should start by increasing the starting level for NICs to the same level as income tax.
    2) Raise the minimum wage towards the living wage.
    Secondly we need to increase the chances of them obtaining employment
    1) By introducing and then supporting a minimum attainment level for school leavers in English and Maths.
    2) By encouraging more real apprenticeships that result in a valuable qualification, getting rid of apprenticeships that are only such in name.

  21. libertarian
    May 4, 2014

    Actually John its not true that people who go on to University do better in life in fact its exactly the opposite. You should read the work of Howard Gardener Prof of Education at Harvard on this. This myth that academic ability is the only way to get on in life has held us back for so long. it has caused our education system to be skewed in favour of a minority of people and it just doesn’t work.

    1. Tad Davison
      May 4, 2014


      I seem to recall being told that Sir Billy Butlin couldn’t read or write, yet he didn’t do too bad because he had business acumen that more than compensated for it. And I know of prominent politicians who are dyslexic, but that hasn’t been a barrier to them either. Yet I also know of people who are academically clever and well-qualified, but wouldn’t even know which end to hold a screwdriver, and have languished.

      There’s a lot to be said for acquiring social skills too, with the ability to communicate right up there amongst the most important ones. A good school that recognises the potential in an individual very early on, and helps to develop it, or works to improve in areas where a child might be lacking, is the way to go for me. Alas, I agree with George Galloway when he said of Labour’s education policy, that we don’t get a lot for our money. Although my own kids have gone to university, I feel it is a mistake to place too much emphasis on it.


    2. Lifelogic
      May 4, 2014

      Indeed far too many go to university and far to many course at universities are largely pointless or hobby subject that should be paid for be the student. We need doctors, accountants, engineers, builders, sales people, business people and scientists.

      Fewer divinity students, sociologist, PPE grads, actors, drama students, BBC think economists and lawyers would be a very good thing indeed.

      1. libertarian
        May 5, 2014


        Students DO pay for their courses. Also you are falling into EXACTLY the same trap. You think only rigorous academic courses are valid. I know someone on a Drama degree and the placement rate of graduates from that course was 100% thats it EVERYONE who graduated had a job in the industry within 6 months of graduating. In my opinion there should be more drama, arts, communication, technology and craft skills taught at school, we should have vocational qualifications alongside GCSE’s and those that can get an apprenticeship should be looking to leave school at 15 0r 16 years of age.

        1. Lifelogic
          May 6, 2014

          Not all all I like practical courses too like plumbing, joinery, bricklaying, drama and golf course management even too.

          I do not even mind people studying divinity, but perhaps they should pay for such hobbies fully themselves.

  22. Pauline Jorgensen
    May 4, 2014

    Access to excellent education is the most effective form of social mobility and there should be ways to get to our outstanding schools because of your ability rather than your wealth. I benefited from the assisted places scheme and also attended a grammar school for a couple of years before they were largely abolished in the area I lived in the time. Lets get back to selective education, streaming by subject and help for the people with ability rather than the grey dumbing down that the left wing educationalists and Labour politicians subscribe to.

  23. libertarian
    May 4, 2014

    Here is what government and politicians can do to help and encourage people to go into business.

    Lower taxes, cut red tape, then get out of the way. Do nothing, we don’t need politicians and government with their stupid and irrelevent IR35, BID and startup schemes their endless meddling and interference. Cut the number of politicians, cut the levels of government stand back and watch the economy soar and more people improve their own standard of living.

    1. Lifelogic
      May 6, 2014

      Exactly leave the money with the people who create it then they can put it to use rather than government pissing down the drain or pointless wars. green crap, the EU or payments to augment the feckless or buy votes.

  24. Tad Davison
    May 4, 2014

    I come from a solidly working class and under-privilaged background. I would have loved a better education than the one I received. Whilst at the age of seven, kids in school were reading about Dick and Dora, and Spot the dog fetching a ball, I was skiving off and taking vacuum cleaners to bits to see how they worked. And, I might add, putting them back together again.

    I firmly believe a ‘one size fits all’ education system is far from ideal. I hated the classroom environment and still hate school even today, even though I’ve been left for forty years this very month. It held me back, and only when I escaped it, did I begin to flourish.

    The things I know and can do are in no way attributable to my school days. Such things as playing the guitar and piano, designing really successful radio controlled model aircraft (for which it is necessary to have a good knowledge of aerodynamics). Rebuilding cars and motorcycles (my first was Triumph Tiger Cub aged 14). Building miniature passengers hauling locomotives, and all manner of other things besides, too numerous to mention. I love to learn new things and acquire new skills, but the state schools could never provide that. I am completely self-taught.

    For any child in the modern era to realise their full potential, and thereby be a real asset to the nation, they need proper tailored education in the things they are interested in, and have an inclination towards. And I’m not talking about making rap records that have entertainment value only, although some have gone on to make money out of it.

    Such a system is expensive, but not nearly as expensive as system that produces sterile drones with little thinking or creative ability. The country needs innovators to ensure we get ahead and stay there.

    I wasn’t a fan of the eleven-plus system as it had too many flaws. A child’s entire future it seemed, could be determined by how well they did in an exam taken at a time when they were not fully developed, although I passed mine. Old attitudes and rigidity needs to be replaced with something that gets the best out of every individual child. Anything else is a travesty and cheats them out of their birthright.

    Tad Davison


    1. Lifelogic
      May 4, 2014

      Taking things to bits to see how they work is a very good education indeed.

  25. Kenneth
    May 4, 2014

    How can the government help?

    It should recognise that academia is only one aspect of education.

    Employers (and the self employed) value a wide range of skills. It is high time the government recognised the economic value of manual and technical skills.

    Put it this way: why should a 15 year old boy be forced to learn Shakespeare when he could be learning how to lay bricks and earning money doing so?

    15 year old boys are potentially economically active and should be valued as such.

    1. margaret brandreth-j
      May 4, 2014

      A bit sexist here . wish they would have taught me to lay bricks.

      1. alan jutson
        May 5, 2014


        Many women are now studying for qualifications within the construction industry, are are starting to appear on many sites as the professionals.

        Also a number now working as electricians and plumbers.

  26. Narrow Shoulders
    May 4, 2014

    The poor will always be with us. The trick is to make sure that the poor can still afford essentials.

    Government models of giving benefits to lift the needy out of poverty only succeed in lifting prices commensurate with the benefit given (housing benefit being a case in point but food prices are also higher because there is more money with which to buy food due tot he benefit system), thus making everyone poorer except the ultimate suppliers.

    A truly radical government would find a way to ensure that supply exceeded demand which would depress prices. Not constantly trying to raise GDP by population increase would be a start but no government will attempt this because the twin Gods of consumption and GDP have to be fed.

    1. Narrow Shoulders
      May 4, 2014

      Those who went to University tended to do better in the past (there are always exceptions) because the brightest and best went to University. By increasing the number who go to University you do not increase the quality of output you most likely decrease the quality of the course.

      1. Lifelogic
        May 6, 2014

        Exactly they did better largely because they were bright not in the main through what they learned at university (outside a few professions perhaps).

        It is the usual confusion of cause and effect.

        Clearly now that almost anyone can go to University some might well be better off just becoming a chartered accountant, or good roofer/builder/electrician at age say 20 and not bother with the sociology or geography degree at Bognor or somewhere first.

    2. Tad Davison
      May 4, 2014

      Spot on!


    3. A different Simon
      May 5, 2014

      Narrow-Shoulders ,

      You are absolutely right .

      The final stage in Govt’s making things unaffordable is to start providing credit to “make things more affordable” .

      Freddie Mae and Freddie Mac have noticed that mobile homes are currently affordable and plan to make them affordable for even more people by “helping” those who currently cannot not afford to buy to do so .

      Where are the poor in the US going to live then ?

      Look at what has happened in the UK . Mobile homes near my mother sell for between 4 and 5.5 times the median wage .

      When my late dad was a bank manager , he would not lend to people who wanted to owner occupy them .

      Who (or what) actually ends up being helped by the provision of such a huge amount of credit ?

  27. petermartin2001
    May 4, 2014

    Yes, the best way out of poverty is to have a job. An initial job may be low paid and not much of an improvement on living off State benefits when tax, travelling and other expenses are included. But that job gives the holder a much better chance of finding a subsequent job which would be a significant improvement.

    The problem for many is finding that initial job. Therefore, it must make sense for governments to offer a minimum wage job as an alternative to State benefits. Care must be taken to ensure that its creation does not simply allow an employer to dispense with the services of someone else already employed. So, using the unemployed to stack shelves in supermarkets achieves nothing. Those shelves would need stacking regardless.

    It’s really nothing new. The US government employed millions of people on Federal work programs in the depression era.

    It may be a little more expensive in the short run than paying out welfare but the long term benefits are obvious. Even in the short term it is better to get something by spending a pound, rather than get nothing by spending 75p.

  28. bigneil
    May 4, 2014

    “So how can we help more achieve these successes in life?” -depends what you call successes. A large six bed house?, a new Roller every year? plus 4 other luxury cars on the drive? A pile of money?
    For a start there is a limited supply of money, for one person to have an extra £5m there is 5m people who are £1 worse off. Not everyone can be rich. Not everyone can be a factory owner, not everyone can own their own business, of whatever product.
    If everyone can be successful. why can’t we have every single person in this country as an MP? It simply cannot work.
    If higher education is the way to get more income why are the programs showing (some people ed), who leave schooling at 11 or 12, with brand new 4x4s, holidaying sat in the back of a new open top Porsche, wads of cash etc. No education, low or no, council tax, pile of money. and you don’t see any having to queue at the foodbank, or in fear of losing their houses. Add these to (people who exploit the benefits or cash economy generally ed)then why bother learning? why bother working when you can walk in here and have a free life handed to you. Isn’t that a “success” in their eyes. and they don’t have to stress for it.

    1. Edward2
      May 6, 2014

      The idea there is finite amount of wealth and if you get richer I get poorer is a complete nonsense.
      Consider the vastly improved conditions of life and standard of living achieved by hundreds of millions of people over the previous centuries.
      How did that happen if wealth is finite?

      Wealth can be created and it can enrich more than just the originator.

      What you are actually complaining about is the failure of Governments the world over, to properly use the tax revenues taken off their voters to help those who cannot help themselves, rather than waste most of it.

      1. uanime5
        May 6, 2014

        The idea there is finite amount of wealth and if you get richer I get poorer is a complete nonsense.

        Unless there’s an infinite amount of wealth then wealth is finite and you cannot get richer unless someone else gets poorer.

        Consider the vastly improved conditions of life and standard of living achieved by hundreds of millions of people over the previous centuries.
        How did that happen if wealth is finite?

        Banks were given the power to lend several time the amount of money they had deposited. So if they had £1 million they could lend £5 million. So while the wealth did increase it was still finite.

        Many people in the west also benefited from the wealth of their overseas colonies.

        1. Edward2
          May 7, 2014

          You are of course totally wrong on this Uni ,as was Marx.

          I note you have completely failed to account for the rise in living standards over the last few hundred years preferring to waffle about your current favourite pantomime villains “the bankers”

  29. ian wragg
    May 4, 2014

    How are we possibly going to get people off low income jobs whilst you continue to flood these pastures with half a million immigrants yearly.
    I see you keep referring to GDP instead of per capita income. This is the same scam as net immigration. We are still not at 2008 levels of activity and there are 2 million more sucking at the teat so incomes are generally down.
    I am lucky, fast approaching 70 and still able to work in power engineering making a decent salary with hours I choose. Where bare the up and coming youngsters to take my job. I would happily pass the baton if there was someone ready to receive it.

  30. Tad Davison
    May 4, 2014

    Just been watching The Sunday Politics Show on the iPlayer. The Lib Dem Malcolm Bruce, said that Grece is for the first time in ages, being allowed to borrow money on the international markets and hailed that as a success. I wonder what Greece is going to use as collateral, olives, or Feta cheese maybe? Isn’t that what caused the problem in the first place?

    So it seems to me, that some politicians need to go back to school. In Bruce’s case, primary school. And they want us to vote for them!

    Tad Davison


  31. Alte Fritz
    May 4, 2014

    It starts with some compulsion. Dependency should not be an option, so that the young will relearn what their grandparents or great grandparents knew. Schools should be supported so that teachers are teachers and not just child minders or prison warders. When children move into the world of work, they should not be all too dispensable. They need some stability and expectation that they will not be left without the means to support themselves.

  32. margaret brandreth-j
    May 4, 2014

    Education does not begin at school, it begins at home. I was a passenger in a car yesterday whilst a young ‘lady’ was driving. She is good looking and attractive to many.She has two children and although volatile is a good person.The air was blue with every swear word I could imagine sentence after sentence. It made me laugh and she didn’t understand why. She said it was a way of life and her young children use these words in every sentence too.Has she got it right and have many got it wrong by not attaching importance to expletives ?.This is home education John.

  33. Tad Davison
    May 4, 2014


    ‘Schools should be supported so that teachers are teachers and not just child minders or prison warders. ‘

    That reminded me of when our youngest daughter started school aged five – some fourteen years ago. She could read and write from the age of three, as indeed could all three of our offspring. She was made to sit in a corner of the classroom with a book to read, whilst the teachers taught the rest all about their ABC. Had it not been for the constant and challenging (but not bewildering) education regime at home, my wife and I are pretty certain she would have fallen by the wayside.

    We soon found another school for her to attend. I recall getting a telephone call from the headmaster asking me to reconsider, but he could not give the assurances we were seeking, that she would receive a proper education, as he was bound by certain rules and conventions imposed by the government of the day. But even the new school wasn’t absolutely what we wanted because they too were bound by those same rules and conventions.

    Education is due a big shake-up, but it hasn’t happened yet, and this is our nation’s future we’re talking about! Perhaps we need to educate the educators?


  34. Kenneth R Moore
    May 4, 2014

    I do wish Professor Redwood wouldn’t consume quite so much effort in fighting Labour on it’s own ground ie championing the poor.
    What does he mean by a ‘disadvantaged’ child ?. Should teachers and money be diverted from children that don’t attract the ‘disadvantaged’ label?.
    How can the state effect outcomes when low attainment is due to the bad attitudes of parents passed onto their offspring ?
    What about the ignored middle classes whose taxes are urgently needed to repay his government’s debts?

  35. Kenneth R Moore
    May 4, 2014

    It was the Lib/Lab/Con party that dismantled marriage and normalised single parenthood exposing millions of children to the misery of divorce… abolished proper discipline in schools… turned a respected police force into a ‘service’….turned teaching into a national nappy changing and social work service.

    That is what i call ‘disadvantage’ .

  36. Chris S
    May 4, 2014

    The problem starts with the education system : schools do little or nothing to assess children’s suitability for different types of work and the career guidance given is too often geared towards academic study.

    The problem is that we now have all-graduate teaching staff who look down their noses at any job that doesn’t require academic study and/or a degree. Children should be told the truth : that basic, clean office jobs such as working in a call centre will never pay well and that they would be far better off with a trade or a hands-on career such as engineering.

    My belief is that university is a suitable course of action for at best 25% of children : the rest would be far better off in some kind of apprenticeship or work based career development programme.

    I would have hoped that annual fees of up to £9,000pa would have ended the nonsense of going to Uni to do a degree in a subject totally unconnected with the career path the student is likely to follow.

    Sadly this is not the case and if the government is not going to recover more than 50% of student loans, they would be better off using the money to subsidising proper apprentices.

    Good employers such as Jaguar Land Rover already go on to provide excellent training for their best staff, often up to degree level for potential engineers, just like German companies do.

    My recent experience of working with a University has demonstrated that many students lack motivation and enthusiasm : not turning up to lectures and failing to hand in assignments when required. Even for the keen student, contact time of 10- 12 hours a week, 30 weeks a year is a pretty poor return for £9,000 pa

    Many university courses could be recast using office-type working hours and four weeks holiday a year with compulsory attendance. Just like the discipline required of work, in fact.

    Courses could then be cut to 18 – 24 months with a huge reduction in costs. Students who don’t work or fail to attend should be dismissed from the course and employers could look at attendance records and use that data in making an assessment of their prospective employee.

    Finally, nobody who is in their sixties will be the slightest bit surprised that upward mobility had all-but disappeared.

    The academic mafia will hear none of it and the politicians daren’t say it but this has everything to do with the demise of the Grammar School.

    When I attended Maidenhead Grammar School in the 1960s, only 15% or so of the pupils went on to University yet many of my friends ended up in good career jobs and are now retiring from high level managerial jobs without going to Uni.

    Most of us have had far better careers than our parents. In short, that Grammar School education gave us upward mobility.

    Regrettably today, nobody without a degree can get on the short list for a senior position because the university-trained HR departments will only recruit people with a similar background.

    When I was looking to recruit a new manager I would insist on vetting the applications myself and I always included a couple of non-graduates on the long list. On quite a few occasions they proved to be the best candidate but it was always a struggle to get them appointed.

    1. Edward2
      May 6, 2014

      Great post Chris.
      Having spent most of my working life in engineering I quickly realised just how clever and valuable people without degrees but with practical skills were.
      Problem in many companies is they get hundreds of applications for a job so they often use the dreaded phrase “must have a degree” as the first stage of reducing numbers.
      The more technical secondary modern schools were useful and suitable for many with practical not academic minds.
      Raising the school leaver age, whilst restricting educational choices via the current prescriptions of the national curriculum is the wrong way to be going.

    2. Tad Davison
      May 6, 2014

      I agree Chris, and I agree with Edward’s response. It really is an interesting paradox that some of the cleverest, most creative people I have ever encountered don’t have a qualification to their name, yet some of those who do have qualifications can’t even undertake the simplest, most menial task. British industry is putting itself at a disadvantage if it fails to even consider job applications from those who don’t have degrees. There is a wealth of talent out there that is being overlooked. The vetting process should include face-to-face interviews with candidates wherever possible and is practical, conducted by people with the wherewithal to sort the wheat from the chaff.

      I know people who are brilliant engineers with a proven ability who wouldn’t even get past the selection process on the grounds that they don’t have a degree. Absolutely ridiculous! I also know people who have engineering degrees, who couldn’t even tell me what a rotary table is, or even something as basic as the cutting speeds for EN8 mild steel, which makes me wonder how they got their degrees in the first place!


      1. Edward2
        May 7, 2014

        Spot on as usual Tad.

  37. JoeSoap
    May 5, 2014

    Government role has to be helping those who can benefit from an education or training that they or their employers can’t afford but is useful to society, then recouping the investment through reasonable taxes. Any more meddling or faux equality chasing is unwarranted. Just invest and take the return. End of story.

  38. Lindsay McDougall
    May 5, 2014

    For sure, getting children and young adults to better themselves is a good idea, and exams tend to help that process (what gets measured gets done). However, putting children as young as two into education is unlikely to be beneficial. Up until age three, a child should be with its mother. Sorry to be so un-PC.

    A recent news item: the number of 5 year olds sent to school in nappies has doubled in the last few years. Oh, brave new world!

    1. Chris S
      May 5, 2014

      I wonder how many of those children turning up at school in nappies were with child minders in their first five years ?

      It either has to be lazy and incompetent child minders or lazy and incompetent parents.

      1. Tad Davison
        May 6, 2014

        A bit of both Chris, with PC thrown into the mix. My eldest daughter was in childcare, and couldn’t challenge what she saw because of it. By my reckoning, that amounts to neglect.


  39. uanime5
    May 6, 2014

    While early intervention can help prevent children from falling behind the government also needs programmes to help school leavers and university leavers find jobs (the current programmes are not working, which is why they have a very low success rate). There’s no point giving people a good education, then casting them adrift.

    1. Edward2
      May 7, 2014

      The Government is useless at finding graduates jobs Uni.
      It is not their responsibility to do this.
      Their role is provide a stable legal and economic framework and have competitive tax rates, together with minimal red tape and then companies will flourish and the opportunities for graduates will appear like magic.

      Check out what you have to do to open your own company and surprise yourself at the hundreds of barriers you have to get through, just to start trading.
      And before you start, I’m not thinking about health and safety issues nor the minimum wage.

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