Moves in last week’s budget to make it easier for lone
parents to move into work were welcomed by child welfare
organisations, but there was also concern that parents of very
young children should have the choice to care for them at home
without being penalised.
The child trust fund launched in last week’s budget
announcement was also welcomed, though the chancellor was
criticised for failing to give children in poverty the help they
The Child Trust Fund will be set up for every baby born since
last September and endowed with £250, or up to £500 for
children from the poorest families. The fund, which will mature
when the child reaches 18, may be topped up by the government or
the child’s relatives. It was first announced two years
The Child Poverty Action Group welcomed the fund, and the higher
payment for poorer families. But CPAG director Martin Barnes warned
that to many families this will sound like “jam tomorrow
rather than help today”.
Barnes was disappointed that the widely criticised social fund
had not been reformed, and that no increase in the child tax credit
He said that without a significant increase in the child tax
credit for poor families, the government would miss its 2005
milestone of lifting a million child out of poverty.
Barnardos too was disappointed by the budget. Policy officer
Neera Sharma said that without committing extra resources and
adopting a strategic approach, the government would not end child
poverty by 2009.
The charity disputes the Chancellor’s strategy for full
employment as a route out of poverty. “There are many parents
for whom work is not an option – particularly the parents of
Britain’s 360,000 disabled children.” Barnardos has
called for a minimum income standard to take all families out of
poverty whether the adults are in work or not.
Mary MacLeod, chief executive of the National Family and
Parenting Institute, said the moves to make part time work pay for
lone parents, and the introduction of new housing benefit
regulations for lone parents, would help a group of parents who are
very vulnerable to poverty. But she added, “Work remains to
be done to give parents, especially lone parents of very young
children the choice to remain at home to care for them, which is
what many of them want to do.”