Child poverty measures must not distract from urgent action needed to tackle it

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive

It's no secret that the Government is struggling to end child poverty. But Labour also found it difficult - missing its target to half the problem by 2010.

This morning the Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith along with Lib Dem, David Laws will launch a consultation calling for a better measurement of child poverty.

Not, as you may suspect, in order to massage the figures. But, according to the Coalition, to reflect the real problem.

At the moment it's measured on how much money a family has.

But because the average national income has now fallen, it's meant more than 300,000 children have been moved out of poverty - even though in reality they are no better off. So the Government says it wants to tackle the root causes of poverty such as worklessness, educational failure and family breakdown.

Child poverty costs the UK at least £25 billion a year Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Those charities tackling child poverty say that's no bad thing. But there are concerns that it could be used as a distraction.

Barnardos says what's needed is urgent action to tackle the problem. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation points out that the poor are getting poorer and that by 2020 one in four families will be in poverty - however it's measured.

Iain Duncan Smith and David Laws may say they're still committed to ending Child Poverty. But it certainly won't happen any time soon.

How is poverty currently measured

Officially, any household which has an income of less than 60 per cent of the median income, is classed as living in poverty.

What is the government proposing

The Government is launching a consultation looking at how it should measure poverty in the future.

Ministers are considering using measures including health, education, family breakdown, addiction and worklessness which they say will give a more accurate picture of families living in poverty.