Letters / Poverty is expensive

Barring a massive U-turn in government policy, which seems highly unlikely given the rhetoric from the two prime ministerial candidates, it feels certain that thousands of Shetland families will sink deeper into poverty this winter – and thousands more will experience poverty for the first time.

The fact that we are in this situation in the first place not only exposes the UK Government’s moral failures, but it also exposes its economic foolishness; for poverty is hugely expensive for the state.

According to a 2016 report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation Counting the Cost of UK Poverty, £78billion of public money (or 4 per cent of GDP) is spent by the government annually to pay for the human costs of poverty. As we sink deeper into poverty, this figure will only increase.

As cruel economic policies increase hardship for more and more people, it’s our health, education, social work and emergency services that must spend more in order to pick up the pieces of people’s broken lives.


The idea that “reducing workers’ pay will save money” is utterly shortsighted. Driving people into poverty will end up costing the government much more, not to mention the misery with which poverty blights folk’s lives.

Increased public funding for poverty reduction measures, such as free school meals, free bus travel and home insulation grants therefore represents excellent value for money, particularly in the current economic climate

So often we look at funding proposals and think that “we can’t possibly afford that” – but we must also ask ourselves the question, “can we really afford not to?”

Cllr Alex Armitage
Shetland South
Scottish Green Party



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