New child poverty strategy revealed by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith

The Social Mobility Tsar has called the document a "miss opportunity"

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith revealed the Government's new draft child poverty strategy on Thursday.

It restates the Government's commitment to end child poverty by 2020 and promises to “tackle poverty at its source”.

But it been branded “a serious missed opportunity” by David Cameron's Social Mobility Tsar Alan Milburn.

Mr Duncan Smith’s failure to reach agreement with Chancellor George Osborne over rewriting the official definition of poverty was branded “beyond Whitehall farce”, by Mr Milburn, who urged ministers to go back to the drawing board.

Mr Duncan Smith agreed to put plans on hold to rewrite the definition of poverty to include factors like educational opportunity, worklessness and parental addiction.

He said in a joint article with the Chancellor on Thursday that “it is vitally important that we take the time to get it [child poverty] right”.

The document lists a range of existing policies to help children living in poverty over the coming three years, from support for childcare to free school meals.

Mr Duncan Smith said that the strategy focuses on the “underlying causes” of poverty, such as worklessness, and his Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) highlighted the reduction to 274,000 in the number of children living in workless households.

The DWP cited academic evidence published alongside the strategy to showe the key factor for child poverty now is parental worklessness, with other main factors including low parental qualifications, parental ill health, family instability and family size.

But Mr Milburn, the chairman of the Government's Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission (SMCPC), said that the strategy “sidestepped” the fact that the situation on poverty has been “stagnating”, with independent projections suggesting it will rise significantly by the end of the decade.

“Two-thirds of child poverty is now found in working households. In three-quarters of those families, someone works full-time. That is why we called for the new child poverty strategy to deliver an ambitious detailed step-by-step plan,” wrote Mr Milburn in a blog on the SMCPC website.

Instead, he said the new document was "a list, not a strategy" and lacked any measures against which the Government can be held to account.

“A strategy which cannot be measured is meaningless,” said Mr Milburn.

Read more: I grew up in poverty. So I know for a fact that the scars left on children do not easily heal

Shadow work and pensions secretary Rachel Reeves said: “Child poverty is set to rise by 400,000 under David Cameron's Government, while ministers squabble over the way poverty is defined."

Mr Duncan Smith said: "Today, with the launch of our consultation on the new child poverty strategy, we restate our commitment to tackling poverty at its source - be it worklessness, family breakdown, educational failure, addiction, or debt."

The strategy was welcomed as “a step in the right direction” in a joint statement by two Church of England bishops, Bishop of Leicester Tim Stevens and Bishop of Birmingham David Urquhart.

Child poverty charities and campaigners gave the draft strategy a chilly reception.

Matthew Reed, chief executive of The Children's Society, said: "The Government's continued commitment to ending child poverty is welcome. But its strategy has no new ideas on how to make this a reality.

"Too many of the strategy's measures will fail to end child poverty. Some will make the problem worse," he added.

Downing Street insisted that child poverty had fallen since the coalition took power in 2010.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: “Under the principal measure that was set out in the pre-May 2010 legislation, I think child poverty is down 300,000 on that measure.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing
The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower