Wednesday, 7 October 2009

The Tories on...poverty

Posted on This is My Truth on 7th October

As part of his own medium-term strategy for positioning himself for the leadership Conservative AM Jonathan Morgan has set out his party's claim on the Social Justice agenda.

He is right that tackling poverty cannot be the property of any one party. But he gets carried away with the symbolism of the Conservatives setting out to capture this agenda, without tackling the difficult detail of this intractable problem.

He wants to see a greater emphasis on business and enterprise in the Communities First programme. He echoes the criticism of the community lead initative and suggests the answer lies in a clearer focus and a greater "understanding toward the economic issues which are the most pressing".

He wants a greater role for central Government and a strong set of targets and benchmarks. That will be help acheieve "a positive synergy to bring about affirmative empowerment", apparently.

I believe that we should restructure the programme to ensure the delivery of specific economic outcomes. Communities First was designed to tackle poverty, therefore the focus should be on those economic factors and shouldn’t be a panacea to cure every problem.

Much of his critique is widely accepted. But his solutions are vague. Yes, Communities First is very broad, but so are the causes of poverty. Also it allows each community to decide the priority for their area. The Conservatices rhetoric of localism is in danger of giving way at the first sign of difficulty to the target culture they have done so much to criticise.

His engagement with the issue is to be sincerely welcomed, but I can't help feel that when it comes to solutions it is easier said than done.

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