Chancellor Gordon Brown should consider lifting all families above 40 per cent of median income, the Treasury select committee said yesterday.
In a report on last month’s Budget, MPs on the House of Commons committee said witnesses to its inquiry had advocated introducing a child poverty target aimed at the very worst-off families.
The government is aiming to halve numbers in child poverty – defined as below 60% of median household income before housing costs – from 1998-99 to 2010-11 and eliminate it by 2020.
The report said it was “clearly attractive” for the government to get people “jumping just over the poverty line”. But the number of families in extreme poverty – below the suggested 40 per cent target – had remained stable despite improvement around the 60 per cent target.
It said it had heard evidence that measuring extreme poverty was particularly hard but called on ministers to consider the 40 per cent of median income target.
Last week Barnardo’s chief executive Martin Narey attacked the current child poverty target as “dishonest”, because the government was not doing enough to meet it.
Figures out last month showed child poverty, according to the government’s measure, increased last year from 2.7m to 2.8m, while experts estimate spending would have to increase by £4bn a year to meet the 2010-11 target.