Social policy experts have said that the government risks missing its target of halving child poverty by 2010-11 by delaying investing in an extra £4bn worth of tax credits and benefits.
In a paper today, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said the government would miss the target by 800,000 if it kept taxation and benefit levels constant until 2010-11.
The IFS accepted the government’s estimate that measures in last week’s Budget would lift a further 200,000 children out of poverty. But it said the government would need to invest an extra £4bn to have a 50:50 chance of meeting the 2010-11 target.
However, pledging this sum in October’s comprehensive spending review would mean a tight settlement for other public services, including social care and the NHS.
The IFS said: “A more plausible scenario is that the government delays earmarking the resources needed for meeting its child poverty targets to future years, hoping, perhaps, for buoyant tax revenues or under-spending in other areas of government. Such a policy, though, increases the risk that either the child poverty target will be missed or that new tax-raising measures will be needed in future Budgets.”