JRF Essays on Poverty

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Prospect magazine have published nineteen essays on Poverty.  The JRF is a funder of research for social change in the UK which aims to reduce poverty and strengthen communities.


Below are some quotes from the publication:


1) A person who has difficulty in buying the labour that he wants suffers inconvenience or reduction of profits.  A person who cannot sell his labour is in effect told that he is of no use.

Full Employment in a Free Society, Lord Beveridge, 1944


2) We need to pay attention to those psychological resources which allow people to feel in control and build relationships and establish social networks.   Without such internal resources, attempts to narrow inequalities simply by improving external social circumstances are unlikely to be effective.

Harry Burns, Scottish Medical Officer


3) On 6th May 1795 at a time of great economic distress, the justices of Berkshire met at the Pelican Inn in Speenhamland, near Newbury.  They decided that subsides in aid of wages should be granted in accordance with a scale dependent on the price of bread, so that a minimum income should be assured to the poor irrespective of their earnings.

Human flourishing is understood as bound up with the well-being of family, friends and colleagues…… One of the problems with the previous political economy was its tendency to neglect relationships.

Maurice Glasmen, Labour peer


4) The absence of working class cultural protection may make the experience of poverty more stressful than in the past, even if people are materially more comfortable…… A policy focus on higher wages and greater esteem for routine jobs, along with the promotion of a culture of mutual support and resilience for trouble families [is needed].

David Goodhart, Demos


5) The opposite of poverty is not so much wealth as participation … sharing in a common social project locally, nationally or internationally.

The model of Jesus’ embrace of insecurity for the sake of ‘enriching’ humanity serves as the focus of an ethics in which we are encouraged to take risks with our resources for the sake of building a more stable environment for all.

Rowan Williams


6) Poverty – as a state of material existence and as a state of mind – [is] too harmful to [its] victims and to the aggregate of good in the world to be shrugged off with the remark that ‘the poor are always with us’.

A C Grayling


7) Overcoming poverty requires getting to grips with the role that urban places and spaces play …..   We need to establish how changing urban conditions create deprivation and establish how community led solutions can be devised.

Maria Adebowale, Living Space Project

About Ed Sykes

Independent journalist. Co-founder of Phoenix Media Co-operative. Author of Rojava: An Alternative. Ex-Canary editor and writer (2015-2020). Aka 'Oso Sabio' - see @ososabiouk on Twitter.
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