Government Poverty Strategy, Essay Example

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Essay

The Government’s poverty thresholds are in place in order to create statistics, while guidelines support welfare planning. According to the Government’s online publication, “the thresholds are used mainly for statistical purposes”. However, the guidelines are other versions of measuring poverty. They are used to determine eligibility for welfare benefits and support. Therefore, they have an administrative role, and are determined by the Department of Health and Human Services. The guidelines depend on the size of household, while there is a differentiation between Alaska, Hawaii and the other 48 states.

Obviously, as there is no individual assessment involved in the poverty guidelines, it is not proven that every given household is able to live on the income above the poverty threshold. There are individual circumstances, such as commitments, schooling, commuting to work and taxation to be considered before it can be applied to an individual case. As individuals living alone are more likely to incur similar costs as couples, such as utility bills, motoring and insurance, the guidelines might not reflect the difference. Also, a single parent might have to spend more money because of the cost of child care than a couple, although both households are considered the same size.

The government’s poverty threshold does not take into consideration the number of people supported outside the household. For instance, a family might have a child at a university and pay the cost of the tuition, housing and living at the dormitory, however, as the member does not share the family home permanently, they are not considered as family members. There is no clear answer whether the calculation takes into consideration before or after tax income, and even if it was decided, it would only work with an average amount of tax paid for the given income. Likewise, the price changes and inflation are not predicted, only based on the previous year’s statistics; therefore, if the inflation grows significantly in the following year, the poverty threshold is set too low.

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