The Coalition’s Programme for Government made clear its commitment to ending child poverty by 2020, in line with the Child Poverty Act. The Government published its national strategy for tackling child poverty on 5 April 2011.
The Child Poverty Act also sets targets for the Government to meet by 2020 on four different measures of poverty – including relative income poverty. Using this measure, there are currently 2.8 million children living in poverty in this country. Children are said to be living in relative income poverty if their household’s income is less than 60 per cent of the median national income.
The Coalition Government recognises that income measures do not tell the full story about the causes and consequences of childhood disadvantage. The national strategy sets out a new set of indicators, including – but not limited to – the income targets set out in the Act. They are focused on: family resources, supporting families and children’s life chances.
For a child, growing up in poverty is about much more than just having a low income. Its causes are complex and varied and its impact is often very long-lasting. Poverty limits children’s opportunity to reach their full potential, and disadvantage is often handed down from generation to generation: poor children often end up being poor adults.
Limited educational resources, a poor home learning environment, poor physical and mental health and family instability all contribute to limiting children’s opportunities and aspiration. For children in households where nobody works, the problems of low income are often combined with parents’ poor mental health and a lack of positive working role models. Parents who themselves grew up in poverty sometimes find it difficult to support their children’s educational and cognitive development.
This is why tackling poverty is about more than just raising family income: it is about supporting parents into work, wherever possible, strengthening families so that they can support their children, and ensuring that all children have access to high quality early years education and schooling.
Ending child poverty requires action from central and local government working in partnership with voluntary and community services, as well as the private sector, to make a difference to the lives of disadvantaged families.
The Government published its UK-wide child poverty strategy on 5 April 2011.
The Government’s Child Poverty Unit (CPU) brings together the Department for Education, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and HM Treasury. The work of the CPU focuses on taking forward the Government's strategy to eradicate child poverty by 2020, and working with sector-based partners to support local areas in their work to tackle the problem.
The CPU is keen to hear your views on the type of information and resources available from this section, including ideas on where further support is needed.
Child Poverty Unit