The government is not to blame for poverty, says Priti Patel

PUBLISHED: 10:27 21 November 2019 | UPDATED: 12:46 21 November 2019

Priti Patel speaks to the BBC. Photograph: BBC/Twitter.

Priti Patel speaks to the BBC. Photograph: BBC/Twitter.

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The home secretary has said that the government is not responsible for poverty in the UK, preferring to blame "all parts of society and the structures".

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When confronted with shocking statistics about child poverty, Patel called the situation "appalling" - but refused to shoulder any of the responsibility.

"It's not the government,," she told BBC North West, adding that government is not a "bland blob that you can just go and blame" and saying that local authorities are also responsible.

"It's not just people in Westminster," Patel told the BBC. "It's not just at a national level, it's at a local level."

Reminded that the Conservative government has been in power for nearly 10 years, she continued: "It's not the government, though, is it. I mean everybody just says 'it's the government' as if it's this sort of like bland blob that you can just go and blame."

Asked whether the government is responsible for poverty, she said: "Actually, it's not. Because it's all parts of society and the structures. Local authorities have a role to play, education, public services, which are locally led and locally run."

Local authorities are funded both locally, from commercial ventures and income such as a proportion of business rates revenue; and from central government in the form of Revenue Support Grants.

A 2018 report by the Local Government Association stated that 168 councils in the UK would receive no Revenue Support Grant at all in 2019 and added: "By 2020, local authorities will have faced a reduction to core funding from the government of nearly £16 billion over the preceding decade."

The video was tweeted by BBC North West on Wednesday evening, and was viewed more than 876,000 times. It was then deleted and re-posted by the broadcaster with slightly different wording.

A BBC spokesperson said: "The original tweet paraphrased the comments in the video as a direct quote.

"Although that accurately reflected the comments made, for clarity we have removed the quotation marks and reposted the video."

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