The Hungarian National Human Development Report, prepared by the Institute for World Economics of the Hungarian Academy of Science, focuses on the issue of poverty and poverty assistance. The economic growth of the 1990s failed to eliminate the huge disparities in living conditions within society. In fact, inequalities widened further between the highest and lowest income groups. The Report indicates that despite joining several international initiatives to combat poverty, no comprehensive strategy for social policy has been established and policy making has been largely ineffective. Assitance to the poor is inefficient and leaves many important groups without provisions. A shortage of adequate financial resources seems an obvious explanation, but in the absence of a comprehensive strategy, it seems justified to ask whether poverty is a matter of political concern at all. Successive governments have expected local government authorities to alleviate poverty, yet they are simply ill-equipped to do so. The Report makes clear that alleviating human poverty calls for a comprehensive social policy based on a welfare-policy concept made up of clear, consistent and coherent principles. However, to do so requires more information on the causes and features of poverty and on the holes in the welfare benefit system.