Ministers accused of reneging on child poverty promise

Campaigners have accused the government of reneging on its commitment to halve child poverty by 2010/11 and eradicate it by 2020, following today’s pre-budget report.

Chancellor Alistair Darling announced measures to lift a further 100,000 children out of poverty. These included doubling to £40 the amount of child maintenance a family can receive without it affecting their benefits by 2010 and increasing the child tax credit by £25 a year above inflation in 2008 and again in 2010.

Campaigners had hoped for a big boost to the government’s child poverty efforts after figures this year showed that the number affected had increased by 100,000 from 2004-5 to 2005-6, following a steady fall in the previous five years.

However, Lisa Harker, co-director of the Institute for Public Policy Research and a former government child poverty advisor, said: “It is hard to see how these changes are going to get the government back on track to halve child poverty by 2010.”

She said that the government needed to lift 800,000 children out of poverty to hit its 2010/11 landmark.

The End Child Poverty Campaign denounced the “meagre measures” announced today, saying the government would need to invest nearly £4bn in its 2009 budget if it is to meet the 2010/11 target.

Director Hilary Fisher said: “It is nothing short of outrageous that the government is reneging on its commitment to millions of children.”

However, the government did restate its commitment to the 2010/11 target by including it among its 30 public service agreements, which represent ministers’ top priorities for 2008-11.

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