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Painting picture of true scale of poverty
Updated 10:43am Wednesday 18th June 2014 in Letters
Sir – Witney is apparently a wealthy town. Look at the registration plates in the supermarket car parks.
But, of course, those who cannot afford a car are not represented in this type of data.
This example illustrates the ease with which a superficial examination of information can lead to misleading conclusions.
In a very informative, well-researched and wide-ranging report, The lies we tell ourselves: Ending comfortable myths about poverty, published jointly by the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church, the Church of Scotland and the United Reformed Church, it is made clear that such comforting beliefs are simply not true.
The report identifies six such myths and shows just why they are untrue.
Space limitations prevent us from giving many details but, for example, note that more people in poverty are in work than are unemployed.
The fact that some 13 million, or one in five, of UK citizens live in poverty is an unpalatable truth.
On our doorstep, in the Prime Minister's constituency, the local food bank is in urgent need of more donations.
A charity is opening a debt-counselling centre in a local church. Benefits claimants, often in very poor physical or mental health, are assessed by a discredited system and denied their dues, while cuts put at risk the ambulance transport for elderly cancer patients.
The easiest way to deal with this problem is to blame the poor for being poor, and many people, including some churchgoers, take comfort from the belief that if someone is poor, it is their fault, or even that they use the benefit system to finance their indolent lifestyle.
The report mentioned above contains 78 references.
Readers of the Witney Gazette who are interested in basing their own views on facts, rather than on anecdotal evidence published in certain newspapers and propagated by some of our politicians, may like to go to jointpublicissues.org.uk/truthandliesaboutpoverty to get further information.
Don Mason (Professor Emeritus) and Dr Ed Morris, Witney
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