Billions needed to meet child poverty targets

The government’s attempts to end child poverty will not succeed unless it is prepared to make massive investment in the problem.

That was the finding of a major study from the Joseph Rowntree foundation which examined what would be needed to halve child poverty by 2010, and end it by 2020. 

The report estimates that current policies will only reduce the number of poor children by 50,000 by 2010. The government would need to increase payments to poor families by £4-5 billion a year to meet its 2010 target.

The 2020 target can only be met by steadily increasing planned spending on benefits, but the study claims it would be too expensive to rely on state redistribution to end child poverty by this deadline.

JRF concludes that a number of key challenges will need to be met to eradicate poverty in a generation. These include reducing educational under-achievement among those who grow up disadvantaged; decreasing the number of low-paid mothers; a benefits payments that rise with earnings; and family friendly employment policies and better child care.

Children’s charity Save the Children welcomed the report. UK director Colette Marshall said the gauntlet had been thrown down to tackle the “grim reality” of child poverty in the UK. The economic rewards of doing so would be obvious for generations to come, she said.

“It is shocking that the government still doesn’t have a workable anti-poverty strategy,” she said. “A cash injection is needed to reach the very poorest children, but there are other important factors such as education and targeted welfare that can alleviate severe poverty.”

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