Moves in last month’s Budget to make it easier for lone
parents to move into work have been welcomed by child welfare
But there was also concern that parents of very young children
should have the choice to care for them at home without being
The launch of child trust funds in the Budget announcement was
also welcomed, although the chancellor was criticised for failing
to give children in poverty the help they need now.
Child trust funds 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 funds, which will mature
when the child reaches 18, may be topped up by the government or
The Child Poverty Action Group welcomed the funds, and the
higher payment for poorer families. But director Martin Barnes
warned that to many families this will sound like “jam tomorrow
rather than help today”.
Barnes was disappointed that the much-criticised social fund had
not been reformed, and that no rise in the child tax credit was
He said that without a significant increase in the child tax
credit for poor families the government would miss its 2004
milestone of lifting a million children out of poverty.
Barnardo’s, 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 2019.
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 the
UK’s 360,000 disabled children.” Barnardo’s has called
for a minimum income 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 families who
were very vulnerable to poverty.