Child poverty campaigners praised the government yesterday for committing to its target, made in 1999, to halve child poverty by 2010 and eradicate it by 2020 in its Children’s Plan.
In October, the government came under fire, when it backed inheritance tax cuts while failing to invest the £4bn needed to meet the 2010 goal in this year’s comprehensive spending review for 2008-11.
However, the Children’s Plan, launched on Tuesday, sets out to eliminate child poverty and break the cycle of inter-generational poverty by supporting parents and increasing family incomes while at the same time closing gaps in education and health for disadvantaged children.
In order to tackle poor housing, the government will also publish an action plan in 2008 to tackle overcrowding, and will prioritise children’s needs in housing decisions.
Other – previously announced – measures designed to lift 100,000 more children out of poverty include a public service agreement to improve the health and well-being of children and young people in October’s CSR and the advent of the Child Maintenance and Enforcement Commission.
Speaking at the Stakeholders event yesterday, the children, schools and families secretary Ed Balls, said the publication of the Children’s Plan “was a defining moment for all of us” but its success depended on the leadership of directors of children’s social services, teaching professionals, parents and GPs.
Balls added that, in his view, it was important to break the link between deprivation and poverty with poor achievement and ambition. He said this would be achieved by eradicating poverty but also by “never using the excuse that poverty or deprivation in the community are reasons for a cap on ambition and expectation”.
In response to the Children’s Plan, Hilary Fisher, director of the Campaign to End Child Poverty, said: “We’re pleased and encouraged by the children’s secretary’s clear commitment to meeting the government’s child poverty targets. The new schemes that have been announced will help some of our most vulnerable families. With 3.8 million children currently living in poverty and indications that the number is again beginning to rise, the need to address child poverty has never been more urgent. The government must spend the £4bn needed to meet its 2010 goals and keep its promise to millions of children and their families.”