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In this assignment I intend to show an awareness of the concepts, definitions and measurements of poverty, of the groups experiencing poverty, social exclusion and discrimination.

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Introduction

In this assignment I intend to show an awareness of the concepts, definitions and measurements of poverty, of the groups experiencing poverty, social exclusion and discrimination. I will then discuss Government anti-poverty policies, legislation and how social work can respond to poverty. I shall now discuss the history of poverty the legislation, theories and measurements of poverty. The Poor Law Act 1601 focused on work discipline, deterrence and classification [Golding and Middleton (1982, Alcock.P p11). People who were poor or destitute were sent to workhouses, as a form of poverty relief, which was seen as a deterrent rather than a solution to poverty. [Alcock. P p11] Poor people were classed as the "deserving" (the elderly or sick) and the "undeserving" (idle, lazy, criminal)"individualist theory". Due to economic structure legislation changed in 1795 to support local parishes to top up agricultural workers wages with the introduction of the "Speedhamland System". This form of support was costly and indiscriminate and did not control or encourage employment. Due to recognition of high unemployment and poverty the Poor Law (1834) was amended, claiming that a person had to be destitute or unemployable in order to receive assistance. [Alcock. P p11] According to Ditch (1996) this law was established to "deter a person from benefiting or seeing it as a substitute for employment"(p25). In (1899) Rowantree conducted a study of people experiencing poverty in York, Absolute poverty based on income. He concluded a family lived in poverty if they had insufficient resources to meet and maintain the basic needs of physical requirements of body and soul, health and efficiency. ...read more.

Middle

In the case of "Sickle Cell Disease" (caused by the cold) that predominately affects black people, was only acknowledge in May 1987 by the DHSS. In April 1988 all heating allowances were abolished, replacement premiums were defined in such a way that anyone with the disease, would not receive compensatory help including children. [Vaux. G & Divine D] (Public Issues, Private pain p214) [Murray 1994:26] claimed that the Government had made a "dependency culture" where illegitimacy was the key measure to the "underclass, where crime and illegitimacy is rife". It is argued that the underclass is a structural phenomenon due to social and economic change. [Field. F (1989) p15] According to (Piachaud 1996:8) "the more politically vulnerable and expendable have been more harshly treated in order to restrain public expenditure". (Responding to Poverty p15, p82) The Institute of Economic Affairs suggested that lone parents should consider giving their children up for adoption the "Ultimate Privatisation". It was suggested if the parent refused that she received a lower level of benefit. [Independent on Sunday, 1995b] (Adoption Bill 1996) (Community Care Act 1996a) [Becker. S p17] Children are the most vulnerable of all according to the JRF report 1 in 6 children are experiencing multiple poverty and deprivation an estimated 26%, 13 million in total. (Poverty & Social Exclusion in Britain 2000) Also young people aged between 16-18 years old due the 1980 reforms are not entitled to any financial support leaving some homeless sleeping on the streets. ...read more.

Conclusion

In the 80's the DHSS published information of surplus funds due to non- claiming of benefits. Welfare rights workers were recruited within social services and local authorities, to support client's to access benefits through "take up campaigning" conveying information to groups likely to be under-claiming benefits through various sources of advertising. (Alcock & Shepherd, 1987) This anti-poverty strategy backfired and was partly the reason for the 1986 reform of means tested benefits. [Alcock. P p249] Social work can best assist people in the community in doing a community profile in the community, and involving clients. Advising clients and communities of ways to deal with debt like Credit Unions, Food Co-operatives, Debt Management services through the Citizen's Advice and Welfare Rights. It would beneficial if all of the relevant issues were dealt with in one social work department within the community. I conclude that Government policies and legislation are to blame for poverty, although the new policies and strategies in place today help some they do not help all clients. I do not feel that it is social works responsibility to deal with poverty or that social work can alleviate poverty, as social work does not have the resources, funding or the staff. I feel that social work can and should challenge poverty, deprivation and discrimination in other ways by anti-oppressive and discriminatory practice. Empowering clients to be aware not only of, their own injustices but that of other groups who discriminate against each other, to install understanding and unity within the community a holistic approach. Social and political change can be brought about by empowering clients to join pressure groups to fight for their rights. 1 ...read more.

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