London’s Anti-Poverty Strategy: Literature Review is one of the documents that led to the creation in London of the Child and Youth Network. The purpose of the Child and Youth Network is to eliminate poverty through strategies focused on children. In the Literature Review both causes of and solutions to poverty are presented. In terms of causes, they look at economic trends and identify “Deregulation of business…and elimination of trade barriers” as causing increased poverty. There is a sense that free markets, although generating wealth, do not distribute it well and actually contribute to growing income inequality. Ironically, in local solutions to poverty, they identify freeing up markets, including:
“Creation of an economy based on a market in which the price of goods and services are determined through the mutual consent of buyers and sellers. The role of government is reduced to addressing market failures.”
Do you see the irony? We know that freeing up markets in increasing poverty and inequality, yet there is a desire locally to attract big businesses for local job creation. This is the rub, where local urgency blinds us to national and international trends.
All that said, market solutions will never be enough to end poverty, as employment in its current iteration will never be a reality for all. To end poverty, we must look at specific issues for specific populations, not the least of which would be people experiencing homelessness. And, within this demographic, there is another group that we need to look at if we want to end homelessness, which is people experiencing a substance addiction. Until we get smart about working with addictions, we will always have homelessness, and as long as we have homelessness, we will have poverty.