Campaigners warn over child poverty targets

Campaigners welcomed the publication today of legislation enshrining a commitment to end child poverty by 2020 but warned that action had to start immediately.



A Bill to be unveiled by new Work and Pensions Secretary Yvette Cooper will set out how the target will be measured alongside moves to force governments to monitor progress.

Ms Cooper conceded that meeting the deadline, originally set by Tony Blair in 2000, remained "a big challenge", with an interim target to halve it by next year already looking almost certain to be missed.

But she said Labour would not shy away from the issue and wanted to lock future administrations into efforts to ensure no youngsters were "left behind" in future.

The legislation will include targets to have fewer than 10 per cent of children living in households with less than 60 per cent of median income and fewer than 5 per cent in those with less than 70 per cent.

It will also promise an absolute family income below which no more than 5 per cent of youngsters will be living and a maximum proportion - yet to be set - for those living in relative poverty for three out of four years.

Ministers will be required to publish a three-yearly strategy and annual progress reports and an advisory child poverty commission will be set up.

Duties will also be placed on local authorities and other "local delivery partners" to assess local needs, produce strategies and consider the issue in developing Sustainable Communities Strategies.

"This Bill is about giving every child a fair chance in life," Ms Cooper said.

"I want a society where children don't miss out on school trips, aren't stuck in poor housing with no space to do their homework and aren't left behind because they don't have a computer or internet access.

"This is a big challenge, and one which we will not shy away from. It is about the society we want to live in. It holds current and future government's feet to the flames and won't allow any government to quietly forget about child poverty or walk away.

"It sets out what we need to do from a national to a local level to work together in communities across the country to end child poverty by 2020."

End Child Poverty director Hilary Fisher said: "With four million children in poverty in the UK today it is important the Government focus on the real challenges facing children living in poverty.

"We welcome the Child Poverty Bill as an important step forward in making tackling child poverty a priority for all governments - ending child poverty is not a luxury, but a necessity.

"It will be particularly important to be clear how government will be held to account in the legislation.

"We believe the first step to tackling child poverty in the future is tackling it today. We need to see urgent action to help hard-pressed families now as well as a strong Bill which carries forward that action into the future."

The Department for Work and Pensions said getting parents into work would be key to success.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Theresa May said: "Gordon Brown's pledge to halve child poverty by 2010 is just one of countless Labour promises that lies in tatters.

"It is a tragedy that the number of children falling into the poverty cycle is continuing to rise.

"The Government needs to wake up and get a grip of this problem.

"Simply relying on means-tested benefits to address the symptoms of poverty is unsustainable. Instead we must tackle the root causes of poverty, such as educational failure, family breakdown, drug abuse, indebtedness and crime."

Ms Cooper said 500,000 children had been lifted out of poverty since Labour came to power in 1997 and measures already in place would double that figure.

"It beggars belief that the Tories can criticise this Government's determination to eradicate child poverty. In 18 years in power, the Tories doubled child poverty and turned their backs on the unemployed.

"Now they would do so again by opposing Labour's help for unemployed parents and with their plans for 10 per cent cuts in education and children's services."



Theresa May said politicians should be tackling the root causes of child poverty, including family breakdown, unemployment and educational failure.

She told BBC News: "Putting a bill sets a commitment, it raises the profile of the issue but what actually matters is what we do to help people."

Asked if she would support the Bill, she said she had not yet seen it but added: "We are supportive of the commitment that the Government has given on child poverty."

Ms Cooper said: "A recession does obviously make it harder to make progress. The big thing over the next few years is preventing parents getting stuck in long term unemployment."

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
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

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam