Independent Report Shows Government Plans will Increase Child Poverty

As an independent report shows the Government’s policies will increase the number of children living in poverty by up to 600,000, Copeland MP, Jamie Reed has slammed the Government for not coming clean over questions relating to child poverty.
Jamie Reed tabled two Parliamentary Questions, a written question that ministers are required to answer, on how likely it is the Government would meet the child poverty targets as laid out in the Child Poverty Act 2010.
The 2010 Act makes legally-binding targets for reducing the number of children living in material deprivation and low income.  The Government plans to scrap these targets and replace them with new measures that don’t measure the outcomes of income poverty: A report published by the Resolution Foundation say that within this approach “there appears to be a fundamental incoherence”.
The report goes on to conclude that measures announced in the Summer Budget are set to raise child poverty by up to 600,000 by 2020 and that in-work poverty is set to rise from 1.6 million to 2.3 million.
Copeland MP, Jamie Reed said:
“The Government’s complacency on in-work poverty is extremely concerning.  Empty words from the Prime Minister and Chancellor will continue to ring hollow when millions of people work hard but still struggle to make ends meet.
“That the Government have no idea how likely they are to meet targets to reduce Child Poverty is shameful.  The last Labour Government made great progress on reducing the number of children living in poverty, but that is being undone by short-sighted and incoherent policies of this Conservative Government.
“Many people are working incredibly hard just to make ends meet.  It is now beyond doubt that the package of measures put forward by the Government will make hardworking families worse off, force more working people into poverty and increase the number of children that grow up in hardship.  On top of this, the Government are making it harder to measure child poverty which will make it harder to make progress on reducing it.”

Here is Jamie’s letter to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Dear Secretary of State,
Child Poverty
I am writing in response to the answers your Department provided to Written Parliamentary Questions 7956 and 8147.  These questions were in regard to the child-poverty targets as set down in the Child Poverty Act 2010.
As you will be aware, the Child Poverty Act was passed in 2010 with cross-party support and the last Labour Government made significant progress in taking children out of poverty.  However, according to Child Poverty Action Group, child poverty is set to rise between now and 2020: “projections from the Institute for Fiscal Studies suggest that after a short period of flat-lining, child poverty rates will begin to rise again in the near future.” They also state that since 2010, the number of children in absolute poverty has increased by half a million.
It is because of these worrying statistics that I tabled two Written Parliamentary Questions to determine what progress has been made towards meeting the four goals as laid down in the Child Poverty Act 2010.  These were:
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, when he expects to meet the four targets for eradicating child poverty as set out in the Child Poverty Act 2010
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what forecasts his Department has made of the likelihood of fewer than five per cent of children living in material deprivation and low income by 2020-21
The answers I received to these questions were deeply troubling.  Not because of the statistics included (there were none), but because the lack of detail supplied implies that you have no estimate as to when these targets will be achieved.  Despite asking two different and specific questions I received the same response back; a response that seemed to answer a question that wasn’t asked.
I understand that you are committed to abolishing the targets as set out in the Child Poverty Act as part of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, but until that Bill is enshrined in law, the existing targets are still binding.  With this in mind, are you now able to provide answers to my specific questions?
When do you expect to meet the four targets for eradicating child poverty as set out in the Child Poverty Act 2010? and
What is the current likelihood of fewer than five per cent of children living in material deprivation and low income by 2020-21?
An answer to a further Parliamentary Question (7955) revealed that in 2013/14, 13% of children (1.7million) were living in low income and material deprivation.  The same level as in 2010/2011.  This shows that you have made little, if any progress.
Your scrapping of the targets and measures in the Child Poverty Act 2010 and replacing them ‘life chances’ measures is wholly inadequate.  A report published by the Resolution Foundation on the 7thOctober echoes this concern.  On the issue of replacing income-based targets with ‘life chances’ measurements of worklessness and educational attainment, the report states:
“There appears to be a fundamental incoherence in targeting two factors considered to be potential drivers of the outcomes of income poverty and deprivation while rejecting the measurement of these outcomes themselves.”
This report concludes that measures announced in the Summer Budget are set to raise child poverty by between 300,000 and 600,000 by 2020 and that in-work poverty is set to rise from 1.6 million in 2016 to 2.3 million by 2020.
In a speech in November 2006, David Cameron said: “So I want this message to go out loud and clear: the Conservative Party recognises, will measure and will act on relative poverty.”
This seems to make the Government’s position clear, so can you now provide me with the information that I requested in my Written Parliamentary Questions.
Yours sincerely,

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s