British children need Coalition to prove commitment to reducing child poverty

June 14, 2012

Today’s new child poverty figures confirm that while the ambitious target for 2010 was not reached, it drove forward major progress reducing child poverty across all measures:

  • Absolute poverty reduced by more than half (from 3.4 million children to 1.4 million children since 1999)
  • Relative poverty reduced by 1.1 million children (from 3.4 million to 2.3 million since 1999)
  • Material deprivation reduced by 300,000 children (from 2.2 million to 1.9 million since 2005).

Alison Garnham, Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group, said:

“By measuring whether the poor are getting poorer compared to the rest of society, the relative income poverty measure is the single best indicator of whether 'we're all in it together'. It would be shameful if the Coalition’s approach on child poverty was moving the goalposts rather than tackling the problem.

“Britain has set a high standard for our rate of child poverty reduction. David Cameron promised that as Prime Minister he would ‘make British poverty history’ and if he builds on our impressive record so far this century, he could do it.

“The Coalition still has no clear roadmap for how they will continue the child poverty reductions they inherited. Families and children have been made the main target of the Coalition’s austerity agenda and experts now predict child poverty will rise dramatically. If we side-line income poverty it will backfire and we will see an increase in problems like debt, family breakdown, poor health and addiction. What worked is the broad approach required by the Child Poverty Act, focussing on financial support alongside areas like parental employment, childcare, Sure Start, education, health, housing and parenting skills.”

On the new consultation on measuring child poverty, she added:

“We welcome the Coalition’s commitment to keeping the income targets and agree that any new ways of measuring child poverty should supplement what we have, rather than moving the goal posts. We should look at how targets could drive progress in areas like social housing supply, living wage jobs, youth employment and affordable childcare. If we create more jobs, pay fair wages and drive up the supply of affordable homes, we can drive down child poverty at a faster pace and control the welfare budget without hacking holes in the safety net.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

  • On Tuesday of this week, CPAG published Ending Child Poverty by 2020: progress made and lessons learned, with contributions commissioned from leading experts on financial support, employment and services for children and families. See pdf of report at top right.
  • The ‘poverty plus a pound’ arguments used by Iain Duncan Smith today has been firmly refuted by analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies which found that if the relative low income poverty line (currently 60% median income) was set at anywhere from 43% to 100% of median income there would have been reductions in child poverty since 1999. This means that it was not just the 1.1 million children taken out of relative poverty that were helped, but that millions of other children were helped too in households whose poverty was made much less severe than previously, or who have been lifted even higher above the poverty line than they were previously. For further fact correction on the targets and requirements of the Child Poverty Act, see the 'facts' briefing top right of this page.
  • For a full media briefing on the previous UK trend in child poverty, the child poverty targets, how child poverty is measured, and the Child Poverty Act, see top right of this page.
  • The IFS has conducted analysis on the Coalition’s spending plans and the austerity burden on low income families, which suggests that from 2011 onwards child poverty will rise by 400,000 children by 2015:

http://www.ifs.org.uk/comms/comm121.pdf

  • CPAG is the host organisation for the Campaign to End Child Poverty, which has over 150 member organisations and is campaigning for public and political commitment to ensure the goal of ending child poverty by 2020 is met.

For further information please contact:

Tim Nichols

CPAG Press Officer

Tel. 020 7812 5216 or 07816 909302