THE PLEDGE Tony Blair made his famous pledge in 1999 THE TARGET AND ITS MILESTONES On the way to ending child poverty by 2020, two milestone targets were established: Reduce 1998-9 level by one quarter - by 2004/5 Half 1998-9 level – by 2010-11
A BINDING LEGAL DUTY The child poverty sector – especially through the End Child Poverty coalition – campaigned for the target to become law. A POLITICAL CONSENSUS All the main parties signed up to the Act and its targets. In 2006, in what he acknowledged at the time was a radical policy shift, David Cameron said: &quot;I believe that poverty is an economic waste, a moral disgrace. We need to think of poverty in relative terms - the fact that some people lack those things which others in society take for granted. &quot;So I want this message to go out loud and clear - the Conservative Party recognises, will measure and will act on relative poverty” THE 4 MEASURES OF POVERTY IN THE ACT The main measure is Relative poverty – to reduce the proportion of children who live in relative low income (in families with income below 60 per cent of the median) to less than 10 per cent The use of four measures was to ensure improvements were real and lasting • Combined low income and material deprivation – to reduce the proportion of children who live in material deprivation and have a low income to less than 5 per cent • Persistent poverty – to reduce the proportion of children that experience long periods of relative poverty, with the specific target to be set at a later date; and • ‘Absolute’ poverty – to reduce the proportion of children who live below an income threshold fixed in real terms to less than 5 per cent.
The Act had six key elements A consultation paper on the strategy was published in December, but we don’t believe the Government will publish the strategy within a year of the Act being published – that would be by the end of this week. We expect the strategy to be published next week or the week after. We’re really disappointed that an independent commission hasn’t been set by the government. The Act set up the commission so that it would provide independent and evidence-led advice on what the strategy needs to include and to monitor progress. The reviews by Field and Graham Allen - helpful as they are in many respects - plainly aren’t what parliament intended. As we’ve heard from Barnsley, the Act recognises the vital role of local authorities and their need to perform much of the heavy lifting needed to make progress. Finally, the UK child poverty strategy, and advice given by the Commission to the UK and devolved governments, must take into account economic and fiscal circumstances, and the likely economic and fiscal impact of any measure.
The target drove action across government and led to real progress being made. Child Poverty has dropped from 3.4million to 2.8million for the latest year we have information for The fall in child poverty numbers happened before 2005 and after 2007. The latest figures for FY 2009-10 will be published on Thursday and are likely to show a further fall. IFS predicted in December child poverty would fall to 2.5m by 2010-11 Danger is that unless progress made soon – 2020 target becomes unrealistic
The next three slides highlight what the evidence says on what worked: What worked --- Financial support for families All families but especially poorest This has had a real impact on children’s lives
Getting more parents into work Through tax credits, minimum wage and job programmes There was a significant increase in lone parent employment rates.
What worked - Childcare No doubt the extension of free nursery places made a huge difference for many families. We’re pleased the Government is looking to build on this by funding nursery provision for some 2 yr olds, But hugely disappointed by the cuts to funding for surestart and the reduction in help with childcare costs through Working Tax Credit they go against everything the government is saying about improving work incentives
If a strategy has no specified milestones – how is it a strategy? A strategy to arrive at what point? To deliver what?
Donald Hirsch – Family Budgets – incomes need to rise by more than inflation – if budget standards uprated according to needs - much higher increases due to rising costs of food, fuel and clothing – highest rises and most common types of expenditure
Cost of entering work for second earner, average wage family is lower than the OECD average
OECD evidence relates to period before recession
If de-prioritisation of income poverty is to save money – what about investment needed in services? Early years investment – serious money needed here - not a cheap option Childcare quality is worst in disadvantaged areas
Child Poverty – A National Perspective 28 June 2011