Government renews commitment to eliminating child poverty

27 Feb 14
The government has reiterated its commitment to end child poverty in the UK by 2020 through tackling what it called the underlying causes deprivation.

By Richard Johnstone | 28 February 2014

Ministers have reiterated its commitment to end child poverty in the UK by 2020 through tackling what it called the underlying causes deprivation.

The Department for Work and Pensions yesterday launched a consultation seeking views on what further action was needed from government, businesses and the third sector to meet the target.

It set out steps already taken by the coalition government, including the introduction of the Universal Credit benefit reform intended to make work pay, the Pupil Premium funding boost for schools, and free school meals for all infant school children from September 2014.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith noted that children were three times more likely to be in poverty in a workless family, but said there were fewer children living in workless households now than at any time since records began.

‘At the heart of our welfare reforms is the commitment to transform the lives of the poorest and most disadvantaged in our society,’ he said.

‘Central to our approach is the conviction that it is not enough only to tackle the symptoms of poverty without also tackling the underlying causes.

‘With the launch of our consultation on the new child poverty strategy, we restate our commitment to tackling poverty at its source – be it worklessness, family breakdown, educational failure, addiction, or debt. These are the problems that blight the lives of vulnerable families and the strategy draws together the action we are taking on all these fronts.’

The previous government’s target to halve child poverty by 2010 was not met. However, yesterday’s announcement stated the coalition remained committed to the accompanying target to eradicate child poverty in the UK by 2020, despite a previous consultation on a possible broader measure.

The consultation will run until May 22, and the full updated strategy will be published later this year.
Responding to the announcement, the Child Poverty Action Group said the updated plan contained little that would make a dent in the numbers of children growing up in poverty.

Chief executive Alison Garnham said: ‘Parents want secure jobs, living wages, fair rents and affordable childcare. This should not be too much to ask in one of the world’s richest economies, yet these things remain out of reach for millions of families.

‘The draft strategy is weak in these essential areas with nothing to say on living wages and only limited investment in affordable homes.

‘Childcare and school costs are better areas, with the government understanding the importance of investment and the future returns it will bring. We need this ambition to spread throughout the strategy.’


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