Pensioners helped more than children

Child poverty is not falling as quickly as the government expected
but the number of poor pensioners has been “dramatically” reduced,
according to an economic think tank.

In an analysis of official figures published last week, the
Institute of Fiscal Studies predicted the government was unlikely
to have met its 1998 pledge to reduce child poverty by a quarter by

The figures show relative child poverty fell by 100,000 in 2003-4
to 3.5 million, after housing costs. To meet the government target
it would have had to have fallen by a further 500,000 in

It blames the smaller than expected fall on administrative problems
with child tax credits in 2003-4, a low take-up rate for the new
benefit, and a rise in the number of children in unemployed

The Department for Work and Pensions insisted an increase in child
tax credit rates and improvements in take-up would keep it “broadly
on track” to hit its targets.

Progress on pensioner poverty was better, however, with the figures
falling by 300,000 in 2003-4 – or a quarter since 1998-9. The IFS
described the fall as dramatic.

Age Concern’s director-general Gordon Lishman welcomed the progress
and the part played by the pension credit but added that the
government still had a lot to do to help the two million pensioners
still living in poverty.

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