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Child Poverty Act changes to be made

  • 02/07/2015
  • Author:bridgetmccall

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, announces new measures focused on levels of work in a family and improvements in education achievement.

The Government will introduce what they say is "a new and strengthened approach to tracking the life chances of Britain’s most disadvantaged children" - Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has announced.

New legislation to replace the Child Poverty Act 2010 will change the measure used to track child poverty by using:

  • The proportion of children living in workless household as well as long-term workless households

  • The educational attainment of all pupils and the most disadvantaged pupils at age 16.

The Government will also develop a range of other measures and indicators of root causes of poverty, including family breakdown, debt and addiction, setting these out in a children’s life chances strategy.

Comments from Work and Pensions Secretary of State

Mr Duncan Smith said: "Eradicating child poverty is an absolute priority for this Government, and I have consistently argued that it is not enough to tackle the symptoms without also tackling the underlying causes.

"The measures announced today are the foundation of a new, comprehensive way of addressing poverty and reflect our conviction that work is the best route out of poverty.

"Our new approach will drive effective government action by focusing attention on making meaningful change to children’s life chances."

Turn2us comment: New child poverty measures will not tell full story

In response to the proposals, Simon Hopkins, Chief Executive of Turn2us, commented:
 
“This week’s announcement from Iain Duncan Smith will no doubt prompt a wider debate surrounding how poverty is identified and tackled in the UK. We keep an open mind regarding any action that would help further address the root causes of child poverty, however we must not allow a debate about statistics divert us from the task in hand.

“The historical measure of poverty as 60% of median income is by its very nature relative, but it is one of a range of measures that we use to target our practical support more effectively. The proposed new benchmarks will no doubt offer additional insight, but we do not believe they will tell the full story. The very fact that we are having this discussion highlights this as an issue the Government must continue to address, as well working with charities such as ourselves to provide assistance where we can.”

For further information or comments, please contact: Emma Lamberton

Joseph Rowntree Foundation's response

This announcement comes just under a week after the publication of the latest Joseph Rowntree Foundation statistics on 'Households below average income'.

Responding to Mr Duncan Smith's statement, Julia Unwin, Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), said:

"JRF agrees that raising educational attainment and getting people into work are central to addressing poverty, as well as giving children the opportunities they deserve. We welcome the addition of new indicators because poverty is complex - they must, however, clearly measure their direct effects on poverty.

"But evidence shows that income matters to children's outcomes and removing the measure from Government policy would be a mistake. The current two proposed measures will miss the many families who have one or more parents in work but have very low incomes which damage children's lives now and prospects  for the future. We therefore urge the Government to reinstate an income measure, ideally linked to a cost of living measure, to give a proper focus on families' real ability to afford the basics of life in a decent society.

"This country needs a comprehensive strategy to reduce poverty across all ages otherwise poverty is likely to rise. Arguing about the measure does not equate to action to reduce poverty. Removing poverty from the remit of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission is a backwards step. JRF wants instead to see a Poverty Commission whose remit would be to hold governments to account on their plans and actions to reduce poverty for all ages.

"Improving productivity, addressing low pay, market reform and affordable housing need to be part of any such strategy. Changing the Child Poverty Act creates an opportunity for action to address these factors and we urge the Government to take these issues seriously so that we can deliver a long-term and sustainable improvement to the life chances of disadvantaged children."

Sources:

Gov.UK press release: Government to strengthen child poverty measure
Joseph Rowntree Foundation press release: JRF response to changes to the Child Poverty Act

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