The Institute for Public Policy Research called on the government to refocus its child poverty strategy on working households in a report out yesterday.
The think-tank found that 1.4m children in working households were below the government’s poverty line, the same figure as when Labour came to power in 1997. During the same period, the number in workless households had fallen from 2m to 1.4m.
The IPPR recommended introducing a number of work incentives for low-income couples and increasing financial support through tax credits.
It argued that the working tax credit should be increased by a third to £91.31 a week for couple families, reflecting the fact that they require more income than single-parent households to lift them out of poverty.
The government remains committed to halving child poverty – on 1998-9 levels – by 2010-1 – and eradicating it completely by 2020. However, campaigners say ministers are off course to meet the 2010-1 target.
Head of social policy at the Institute for Public Policy Research Kate Stanley said: “Half of all poor children now live in households where someone is at work and the challenge is to ensure that work really is a route out of poverty.”
“More action is needed to combine financial support and measures to boost parental employment with action to deliver fairness on pay and opportunities for progression at work,” she added.