Some things most parties and politicians agree on. Most of the politicians I know want to eliminate or reduce poverty. The new Pope has decided he too will be an advocate of the poor, bringing further media attention to this perennial all consuming issue.
Most parties also agree with the obvious point that poverty is a shortage of money to spend on their own lives. The disagreement comes over how to supply the shortfall.
On the “caring” side of the argument are those who think the answer is simply for richer people through the state to give them more money. On the “tough” side of the argument are those who say we need to do mroe to promote better paid jobs for the poor which they should take to earn for themselves.
The divide comes down to the old adage – is it better to give a hungry man a regular supply of fish, or to give him a rod and teach him how to use it for himself?
Maybe the answer is you need to do a bit of both. You should not let the man starve when there is a spare fish available to give him. You should not want him to rely for the rest of his life on spare fish won from the sea by others.
Mr Osborne has a chance in his forthcoming budget to make tackling poverty a central issue. He needs to make it more worthwhile to save, to go to work and to take responsibility for your own life. He could start by pledging to do better at controlling inflation with his new Governor of the Bank. We do not need a relaxation of the already lax approach to price rises. He could make his own contribution by cutting energy and carbon taxes to make fuel more affordable. He should cut taxes on working , saving and venturing, so the message is clear. We will help those in need, but the best help is to assist them tAke care of themselves.