Westminster Column

8th April 2011

This week the Government published its first UK Child Poverty Strategy bringing together the work of several Government departments. It is unacceptable that in Britain, one of the most developed economies in the world, the lives of millions of children remain blighted by deprivation. It is our duty to ensure that children from all backgrounds can be productive, healthy and happy members of society, and we are committed to achieving this goal.

Our strategy represents a radical new approach to tackling Child Poverty, underpinned by the principles of fairness, responsibility and support for the most vulnerable. It will tackle the root causes of poverty and end entrenched and generational benefit dependency.

Currently one in six children in the UK lives in a workless household, higher than anywhere else in Europe. This is despite a massive increase in benefit spend with £150 billion spent on tax credits alone between 2004 and 2010.

Poverty is about more than income; it is about a lack of opportunity, aspiration and stability. Focussing on income targets led the previous Government to pour money into short-term fixes to the symptoms of poverty, without treating the root causes. We know that just raising families' incomes above an income line will not break intergenerational cycles of disadvantage and bring about life change.

Addressing just the symptoms will not eradicate child poverty in the UK. We plan to tackle the causes of poverty such as worklessness, educational failure, poor health and family breakdown. This will raise the life chances of poorer children and break the cycle of entrenched intergenerational poverty.

We are putting a stronger focus on local provision, on the ground, and delivering services as close to the family as possible, by stripping away bureaucracy, empowering local partners and ensuring that local diversity can be recognised, and developing strong local accountability frameworks.

The Government's welfare reform agenda is key to helping lift children out of poverty.

The strategy outlines the following key measures:

  • More health visitors for Sure Start centres to support vulnerable families
  • Targeted free childcare offer for the most disadvantaged
  • The Pupil Premium targeting funding for those at risk of poor educational outcomes
  • An Early Intervention grant for local authorities to address local needs
  • Introduction of Universal Credit which will make work pay
  • Targeted, personalised support to get people into work through the Work Programme

We have shown in this year’s Budget that the Coalition Government's modelled tax and welfare reforms, could reduce relative child poverty by up to 50,000 over the next two years.

This Government is committed to fundamental reform to end child poverty and we are determined to make sure we can deliver the change that this country needs. If you would like to read more about our new UK Child Poverty Strategy please visit the Department for Education’s website: www.education.gov.uk