The TUC general secretary Brendan Barber has said the Department of Work and Pension's figures published today show that the previous government's investments made a "huge difference to reducing child and pensioner poverty". But Mr Barber also said:
There is a real danger that the vital headway the last government made into getting children out of poverty will now go into reverse.
Moving the goalposts on what constitutes poverty won't help improve conditions for children living below the breadline. Spending on tax credits and benefits took children out of poverty - now government cuts are sending them straight back.
Researchers Paul Johnson, Robert Joyce and David Phillips from the Institute for Fiscal Studies have responded to today's Household Below Average Income figures published by the Department for Work and Pensions.
The IFS wrote that the previous government's relative child poverty target for 2010-11 had been missed, despite large reductions in the measure of child poverty since 1998-99. They also wrote:
The government has re-stated its commitment to the 2020-21 income-based child poverty targets that it inherited (and had voted for).
This leaves the government in the position of having a target looming in just eight years, without policies which are likely to transform the distribution of income anywhere near radically enough over that kind of timescale.
The chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group has said today that the Department of Work and Pension's plans to change the way relative income poverty is measured is the "single best indicator of whether 'we are all in it together'". Alison Garnham responded to the report:
Families and children have been made the main target of the coalition's austerity agenda and experts now predict child poverty will rise dramatically.
If we side-line income poverty it will backfire and we will see an increase in problems like debt, family breakdown, poor health and addiction.
The Shadow Chancellor has responded to the government's plans to change the way child poverty is measured. Ed Balls said he was "proud" of Labour's record on child poverty:
"I fear all that progress is set to be undone by this Government's unfair and failing economic policies. With long-term unemployment rising and deep cuts to tax credits and childcare support making thousands of parents better off quitting work, there is a real risk that child poverty will now rise".
"What we need is a plan to get the economy growing again, tax credits to make work pay and services like Sure Start to give every child, and not just some, the best start in life."
The Department for Work and Pensions published their annual Households Below Average Income report today. Researchers Jonathan Cribb, Robert Joyce, and David Phillips from the Institute of Fiscal Studies have found that:
- 2010-11 saw the largest one-year fall in median income since 1981, reversing five years of slow growth in middle incomes in a single year.
- The number of children in relative income poverty fell by almost a third over 1998-99 period with 2.3 million children in relative poverty in 2010–11 compared with 3.4 million in 1998–99.
- The last government’s target to halve relative child poverty between 1998–99 and 2010–11 was missed by 0.6 million children.
- Measures of relative poverty continued to fall in 2010-11.
- Absolute measures of poverty increased for the population as a whole.
The Shadow Secretary for Work and Pensions Liam Byrne said the Government's plans to redefine who is in the poverty bracket is a "huge shift" in policy and an "attempt to move the goalposts".
- Children in poverty fell by 300,000 (Before housing costs).
- Working age adults in poverty fell by 200,000 (Before housing costs).
- Pensioners in poverty fell by 100,000 (After housing costs).
The Government's Households Below Average Income statistics define poverty as 60% less than the median UK income.
The Government will say it is committed to the targets set out in the Child Poverty Act but it is increasingly clear that poverty is not about income alone. Daybreak speaks to Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.
The Government will today say it is committed to the targets set out in the Child Poverty Act, but it is increasingly clear that poverty is not about income alone.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith will say today: "The Government is very interested in developing better measurements of child poverty, which include income but do more to reflect the reality of child poverty in the UK today.
"We will be seeking a wide range of views in the autumn as part of a green paper consultation on how best to measure child poverty."