Unlawful child poverty ‘strategy’ includes cuts that make poor families poorer

April 5, 2011

Responding to the publication today of the Government’s child poverty ‘strategy’ and social mobility strategy, the Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group, Alison Garnham, said:

“A child poverty ‘strategy’ which does not set out how poverty numbers will fall, and by when, is not a strategy and is incredibly disappointing and surprising given the Prime Minister’s stated commitment on tackling poverty.

“The ‘strategy’ is unlawful because it has not kept to the requirements laid down in law by Parliament. An expert Child Poverty Commission should have been set up and consulted in the strategy’s preparation. This failure shows in the poor quality of the ‘strategy’ itself.

“It is absolutely staggering to see in the 'strategy' cuts to housing benefit and support for sick and disabled families that will make poor families poorer. On top of benefit cuts, wage stagnation and rising prices for basics like food, fuel and clothes mean there is an immediate crisis for families. Urgently addressing the financial crisis for families should be the foundation for the strategy.

“Requirements on social inclusion and the progress Ministers expect to make on their targets by 2014 are missing. We are astonished to see a consultation on scrapping child poverty duties for local government promoted in the ‘strategy’, instead of being clearly ruled out.

"The ‘strategy’ starts from a false premise, suggesting that the last decade made no progress and did not address worklessness. In fact there’s been a downward trend for child poverty in workless households, but an upward trend for in-work poverty, which is now the larger problem.

"Although we finally have a document that tells us what the Government plans to do, it appears to do very little. Taken together with the social mobility strategy it is hard to see how they will have any traction on the major problem of child poverty we face. Britain could have the same low rates of child poverty as other European countries, but to achieve this we need a strategy that learns the lessons of what successful countries on child poverty have got right and addresses the structural unfairness in our own economy.”

Notes for editors
  • The strategy has been published under the requirements of the Child Poverty Act 2010, which received Royal Assent on 25 March 2010 and was supported by both the Conservative Party and Liberal Democrat Party.
  • The Child Poverty Act required the Government to establish and independent Child Poverty Commission in time to consult it while preparing the UK Child Poverty Strategy (sections 8 – 10)
  • The Child Poverty Act requires the Government’s strategy to include an explanation of how it intends to make progress on the four dimensions of child poverty for which targets are set (section 9):
    • Relative low income
    • Material deprivation (with relative low income)
    • Absolute low income
    • Persistent low income
  • The Child Poverty Act requires the Government’s strategy to include the measures it thinks need to be taken across the following areas (section 9):
    • “the promotion and facilitation of the employment of parents or of the development of the skills of parents”
    • “the provision of financial support for children and parents,”
    • “the provision of information, advice and assistance to parents and the promotion of parenting skills”
    • “physical and mental health, education, childcare and social services”
    • “housing, the built or natural environment and the promotion of social inclusion”
  • (Note that these are often referred to as the ‘building blocks’ of the strategy)
  • The Child Poverty Act requires the Government’s strategy to set out the measures it will take to prevent children experiencing socio-economic disadvantage (section 9).
  • For information on how child poverty for in-work households has grown relative to out of work households, due to see page 36 of ‘Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion 2010
  • 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, 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
tnichols@cpag.org.uk