Winter Wonderland

Poverty gap is rapidly widening in winter wonderland. Around 600,000 people in Finland are now living below the poverty line (by the European Union standards) according to statistics by STAKES (the Finnish National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health). The survey reveals that the recent boosts to incomes have done little for Finland's lower class. In fact, the country's poor are doing worse and worse every year.

By contrast, middle-class families with educated parents are doing relatively well. They're making the most of two incomes in typically white-collar jobs, with income tax breaks helping their money go further. But tax breaks have had little - if nothing - effects on the unemployed. The value of state supports and other benefits to the poor have not increased in step with incomes, which widens the gap even further.

Families with many children, or those with a single parent are sinking into poverty faster than any other demographic. The EU sets the poverty line for a single parent with three children at just 1,700 euros a month. Researchers in STAKES say there are things that can help. Tax breaks can be structured to benefit low-income households, for instance. The biggest boost would be to help people get jobs.

But I believe, as always, that right-wing have all the answers needed to overcome this problem.


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