Minutes of the first CPAG meeting

The Minutes of the first meeting of CPAG following the decision (taken at the inaugural meeting on 5 March 1965) to set up an organisation to publicise the problems of family poverty and press for solutions.

Report of Meeting on Poverty on 5th April 1965

Present: Harriett Wilson, Audrey Harvey, Margaret Wynn, Mrs Bligh, Miss Morna Smith, Lisa Pollock, Walter Birmingham, David Jones, Stephen Wyatt, Tony Lynes, John Veit-Wilson, Geoffrey Rankin, Fred Philp

Apologies: Mrs Peggy Jay, Mrs Walker, Miss Barbara Drake, Brian Abel Smith

Fred Philp was asked to act as Chairman for this meeting and Lisa Pollock (Islington F.S.U) offered to act as Secretary.

The meeting then went on to recapitulate the main points of the previous meeting. These were:

  1. That it would be useful if someone could be appointed who would write the press whenever an occasion arose to bring home to the public the existence of poverty and to correct misapprehensions about the poor.
  2. The need for some explanatory pamphlet for Social Workers in the way the National Assistance Board works and often fails to meet the needs of certain families.
  3. To prepare recommendations for the appropriate Ministers regarding, certain changes of method in determining statutory allowances.

The need to devise a plan for meeting the problem of poverty more generally, bearing in mind that quite possibly the majority of families whose income is less that National Assistance level are not in fact sick or unemployed, but are families where the wage earner has a very low wage and a large family.

In the discussion that followed the following points were made.

(a) That although increased family allowance might be the simplest and most equitable way of overcoming the poverty of large families, there was likely to be considerable difficulties in bringing about a change of this kind, partly because of the fear that this would tend to encourage people to have large families.

(b) Bearing in mind the above point some members of the group thought that Family Planning should be included in any recommendations made.

(c) It was suggested that instead of recommending an increase in the existing Family Allowances so as to benefit large families, it might be simpler to use existing P.A.Y.E machinery to make allowances to tax payers and payments to heads of families who were not paying tax or paying little tax.

(d) There was some discussion about the status and future of the group and it was proposed that having found a suitable title, representation might be made to the Government asking for financial help for a Body which would investigate the problem of poverty and make recommendations on the subject to Government departments. The name Advisory Council for the Alleviation of Poverty was suggested.

(e) It was thought that the first objective for the Committee should be to draw up a Memorandum on the subject of family poverty in the hope that in the process of so doing the aims of the Committee would become clarified and bearing in mind that such a memorandum might be used either as basis of evidence offered to some relevant Government Committee of Enquiry or as a basis of an approach to the Minister for financial help as suggested in (d) above.

(f) As a basis for this proposed memorandum, it was suggested that Tony Lynes's broadcast talk published in the ‘Listener’ of 25th March, together with the talk by John Macgregor in the following week’s ‘Listener’, should be used and that Committee members should study these articles and forward to the Chairman by Thursday 20th May their comments, together with any other ideas that members may have relevant to the subject of poverty.

(g) It was agreed that the committee would meet again on Thursday, 6th May at 7.30pm

At this meeting it was hoped to have:

(i) Suggestions for a name for the Group;

(ii) Some information about the Government’s plans for reviewing statutory benefits and allowances;

(iii) a draft memorandum prepared by Fred Philp and John Veit-Wilson, based on the ‘Listener’ articles mention above, and other material concerning particular aspects of poverty sent to them by members of the Group before 21st April 1965.