The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has urged the new work and pensions secretary, Yvette Copper, to rethink plans to extend the use of benefit sanctions to force unemployed people to seek work.
The Welfare Reform Bill would extend the practice of paying benefits to job seekers, including lone parents and disabled people, on the condition that they seek work or improve their employability.
CPAG chief executive Kate Green said: “Welfare reform must be about getting more people into decent jobs and guaranteeing adequate benefits so we can end child poverty for all families, whether they have work or not. The Welfare Reform Bill fails on both tests, but Yvette Cooper still has time to make the changes needed.”
Best hope of ending child poverty
CPAG spokesperson Tim Nichols said increasing support for job seekers is the best hope the government has of reaching its target of eradicating child poverty by 2020.
Nichols added that the pressures on government spending in the wake of the economic crisis should not result in budget cuts to spending on tackling child poverty.
Yvette Cooper was appointed secretary of state for work and pensions in last week’s cabinet reshuffle after James Purnell resigned from the post in an attempt to force a leadership challenge to Gordon Brown.