Darling: Child poverty strategy focuses on parents in work

Guidance for local authorities on eradicating child poverty will be in place by the summer and a national strategy will be published within a year, chancellor Alaistair Darling told MPs.

As part of today’s Budget statement, Darling set out his expectations on how the 2020 targets in the Child Poverty Bill now passing through parliament could be achieved.

His aims include 75% of newly employed lone parents to work 16 hours a week, 50% of low-income or unemployed parents to work a combined 46 hours a week, and a 20% reduction in children born to teenage parents. If these figures were achieved, more than two million children would be lifted out of poverty.

Darling said the national strategy on child poverty would need to focus on how to promote parental employment and strike a balance between encouraging work and supporting family life. There would be more tax credits and benefits to allow parents with very young children to make a choice.

The strategy would have to include a focus on early childhood development, better interventions to narrow the education gap between disadvantaged children and their peers and an increase in the number of young people in training or education to smooth the transition years.

An expert child poverty commission will be established to provide advice and support to councils that struggle to achieve these outcomes.

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