The Government is to repeal its legally binding child poverty targets, Iain Duncan Smith has announced.
The Work and Pensions Secretary said the law was driving government policy to reduce child poverty on an “unsustainable” path.
“How we measure things matters because it influences what governments focus on and what we target,” he said.
The announcement comes as Mr Duncan Smith prepares to make £12bn welfare cuts that the Government’s own child poverty advisors have said are highly likely to raise child poverty.
“The best interests of children were not central to the development of these policies and children's views were not sought,” the UK Children’s Commissioners’ report, handed to the United Nations said.
“Reductions to household income for poorer children as a result of tax, transfer and social security benefit changes have led to food and fuel poverty, and the sharply increased use of crisis food bank provision by families.”
The Work and Pensions Secretary said he had opposed the relative income poverty target for over a decade.
“I believe that the best route out of poverty is work – it provides purpose, responsibility, and role models for our children,” he said.
“I am announcing that we will bring forward legislation to remove the measures and targets in the Child poverty Act, as well as the other duties and provision.”
In 2006, however, David Cameron said in his Scarman Lecture that “poverty is relative - and those who pretend otherwise are wrong”.
What does five more years of the Tories mean for Britain?
What does five more years of the Tories mean for Britain?
1/8 Welfare payments will be slashed
One of the most controversial parts of the Conservative manifesto was to cut benefits for the working age poor by £12 bn over the next three years. But during the campaign they only said where £2 bn of these savings would come from. That leaves £10 bn still to find. Some experts think the only way they can close that gap is by means testing child benefit – with millions of families losing out
2/8 There will be tax cuts for those in work and those who die
The Tories will increase the threshold at which the 40p rate of tax becomes payable to £50,000 by 2020. They haven’t said so but it is also likely that at some point in the next five years they will abolish that 45p rate of tax altogether for the highest earners. They also want to increase the effective inheritance tax threshold for married couples and civil partners to £1m
3/8 There will be an in/out EU referendum in 2017
The next two years are going to be dominated by the prospect of a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. First off David Cameron has the daunting task of negotiating a deal with other EU leaders an acceptable deal that he can sell to his party so he can go into the referendum campaigning for a ‘yes’ vote. This may be unachievable and it is possible that the Tories may end up arguing to leave. Opinion polls show Britain is divided on EU membership, one poll this year showed 51% said they would opt to leave compared to 49% who would vote to stay in
4/8 There will be more privatisation of the NHS
Having won the election the Tories now have a mandate to go further and faster reforming the NHS. In order to make cost savings there is likely to be greater private involvement in running services, while some smaller hospitals may lose services they currently provide like A&E and maternity units
5/8 There will be many more free schools – and traditional state schools will become a thing of the past
The Tories plans to create 500 new free schools and make 3,000 state schools become academies. They will also carry on reforming the Department of Education and remove more powers from local authorities over how schools are run
6/8 On shore wind farms will be a thing of the past and fracking will be the future
Government spending on renewable energy is under real threat now the Lib Dems are no longer in power with the Tories. Subsidies are likely to be slashed for off-shore wind farm and other green energy supplies. Meanwhile there will be generous tax break for fracking as ministers try and incentivise the industry to drill for onshore oil and gas
7/8 There maybe more free childcare – but not necessarily
In the campaign the Tories pledged to double the amount of free early education for three- and four-year-olds from 15 hours a week to 30. The extra hours would only be offered to working families where parents are employed for at least eight hours a week. However they have not said where the money will come from to fund the pledge
8/8 Workers' rights could be reduced
The Tories want to slash business regulation, merge regulator and cut costs. The Lib Dems stopped them from reducing the employment rights of workers in power – but these are now under threat
The Government will replace the existing legally binding measure of child poverty with a duty to report on the number of children in households achieving GCSEs and the level of worklessness. There will be no legal obligation to hit these targets, however.
The Child Poverty and Social Mobility Commission would also be renamed the Social Mobility Commission, the minister said.
Labour, who brought in the targets when they were last in government, accused the Government of changing the definition of targets to suit them.
“What he’s read out today is the obituary notice for compassionate conservatism. It’s the death-knell for any idea that his party might one day be the party for working people,” said Stephen Timms, shadow DWP minister.
“It’s news that progress on child poverty has stalled with most poor children living in working households. Their manifesto said they would work to eliminate child poverty – instead their solution is to change the definition.”
The announcement comes hours after the Press Association news agency revealed that Mr Duncan Smith had had his expenses credit card suspended for running up a £1,000 debt to taxpayers.
Child poverty was flat in figures released by the DWP last week.Reuse content