Government’s child poverty adviser Alan Milburn warns recovery must be fair

February 25, 2014

On the eve of the publication of the government’s new child poverty strategy, the government’s adviser on child poverty and social mobility, Alan Milburn, has called for the government to maintain its focus on income poverty and warned that an economic recovery without a ‘social recovery’ would not be a success.

His comments were made in an interview published today in Poverty, the policy journal published by Child Poverty Action Group.

On a ‘social recovery’, Alan Milburn said:

“I think what is going to happen over the course of the next six to 12 months, the public debate will move from one that is about the cost of living to one that is about the proceeds of recovery. And the Commission’s view on this is that if you have an economic recovery without a social recovery that is not a success, it’s a failure.”

On the importance of a focus on income, he said:

“You have to do what you can on income distribution and, at the same time, you have to do what you can on opportunity distribution. So when ministers or commentators sometimes have said that there’s too much focus on the one and we must shift to the other, I think that is not necessarily the right approach.”

On wages and employers he said:

“An explicit macro-economic objective for any political party serious about making Britain fairer, more socially mobile and less poor, is to recouple earnings and economic growth… I think it is a major issue of public debate about whether it is right that taxpayers have to subsidise low wages amongst employers who are often highly profitable.”

On housing, he said:

“I think that housing is the dog that hasn’t barked in both the poverty and social mobility arenas… It can’t be right that the average private sector rent is much higher than the average social rent and, in a sixth of cases, higher than the average mortgage.”

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

“Alan Milburn is right to call for the proceeds of growth to be shared fairly – it’s totally unacceptable to expect low income families to take the lion’s share of the pain of austerity but then not benefit when things improve. A recovery which continues the gradual decoupling of the poorest families from the rest of society would be a costly social and economic failure – child poverty already costs us £29bn a year.

“We need actions not words from the next child poverty strategy. There are already legal requirements for the strategy to consider financial support, housing, jobs, education, health and parenting skills, but what we really need now are milestones and evidence that things are improving in these areas.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

  • The full interview with Alan Milburn, the Chair of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, can be read in the new edition of Poverty, which can be downloaded from the top right of this page.
  • The government’s new child poverty strategy is expected to be published on Thursday 27th February 014. It will cover the period 2014-2017. It is the first strategy to be formed following the establishment of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission. The Commission published its first report last year and made many recommendations to government on child poverty strategy:
  • A year ago the government consulted on a proposal for changing the way that child poverty is measured. There has been recent speculation that the government will announce new proposals on measurement of child poverty alongside the new strategy. For more information on the reasons for widespread rejection of the previous proposals, including by the Royal Statistical Society, see the consultation responses linked to below.
  • CPAG is the leading charity campaigning for the abolition of child poverty in the UK and for a better deal for low-income families and children.
  • CPAG is the host organisation for the Campaign to End Child Poverty coalition, which has members from across civil society including children’s charities, faith groups, unions and other civic sector organisation, united in their 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 

tnichols@cpag.org.uk

www.cpag.org.uk