Doubts over child poverty targets

The government risks missing its target to halve child poverty by 2010-11 by failing to commit £4bn in benefits and other measures in this year’s comprehensive spending review, experts warn.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said current taxation and benefit policies would leave the government 800,000 short of its target.

The claim followed figures showing that child poverty had risen for the first time in six years, from 2004-5 to 2005-6, and relative poverty for the whole population (see table) had grown for the first time since Labour came to power.

But the IFS predicted chancellor Gordon Brown would not commit the funds in this year’s tight CSR, which covers 2008-11, to prevent money being siphoned away from public services such as health.

Instead, it said he would wait to see if increased tax revenues from economic growth could provide enough money to meet the target.

However, it added: “This increases the risk that either the child poverty target will be missed or that new tax-raising measures will be needed.”

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