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Poverty no longer exists in Britain today

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Introduction

There is an argument that poverty no longer exists in Britain today. Many people would say that the days when people died from lack of food, shelter or clean water ended, in this country, with the introduction of the welfare state (Chinn, 1995). Poverty, however, can be defined in two ways and depending on which definition one chooses to employ, it can be contested whether the balance of evidence shows that poverty actually does exist or not. In this piece of work it will be argued that poverty does affect many people in our society and the lack of resources of poorer people in society is at the root of inequalities in health. Furthermore it will be shown that the discrepancy between the standards of living that better off people in society enjoy and the standards of living that poorer people endure can be something that is very difficult to alter. In conclusion there will be a discussion on the role that social care professionals may play in trying to reduce the negative effects suffered by some people as a result of poverty. The first of the two identified forms of poverty is absolute or "subsistence level poverty" (Thompson and Priestly, 1996: 207). ...read more.

Middle

The rate of pre-natal mortality is higher for women from lower socio-economic groups. A poorer person is more likely to die in infancy, more likely to suffer ill health, as a child and as an adult, and more likely to die prematurely than someone who has greater access to resources. It has been stated that "the most significant factor [affecting health] in poverty is... the fact that poor people are denied access to possessions and services that are available to their better-off peers" (Moore, 1997). This could include: preventative medicine, early treatment when sick, a healthy diet, access to 'keep fit' leisure activities. Other factors which could have a detrimental effect on poorer people could include things like poorly maintained housing, stress related illness and smoking, which is more prevalent among lower income groups (Office for National Statistics, 1998). Explanations for poverty tend to fall into two categories. There are individualistic explanations for poverty. That people who are in relative poverty are so because they are in some way lazy, irresponsible or 'feckless' and they could help themselves to escape poverty if they really wanted to. Some people vocalise this way of thinking by, for example, telling the unemployed to 'get on their bikes' and find work. ...read more.

Conclusion

In particular it recognises the needs of those who may have multiple disadvantages, for example women, children, people with disabilities, older people and people from ethnic minority groups. Social care workers should have an awareness of combined inequalities and should have a commitment to reduce them. "Many social workers invest considerable efforts to maximise the welfare benefits of their clients and search through charitable resources to alleviate some of their acute hardships" (Jones, 1997: 121). Social care workers can work in partnership with other agencies to ensure that they refer people to organisations who are able to help, when it is not within the social carer's remit. For example, referrals could be made to: agencies who advise on health matters, or work to increase benefits, or help people back into work, or give advice on housing matters. "The best way to get rid of poverty - absolute or relative - is to forge a more genuinely equal society" Stephens et al (1998: 258). This is something that is beyond the capabilities of any one profession. In conclusion, social care workers can help to reduce the negative effects of poverty to a certain extent but, for any major improvements to be made, there needs to be a radical change (through governmental policy) in the distribution of both power and wealth. ...read more.

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