A consultation, which aims at finding a better way of measuring child poverty, has been launched yesterday by Work and Pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith. He said the method that is currently used “does little to represent the experience of those in poverty”.. That`s why new factors, measuring child poverty should be observed, such as debt, drug addiction, school presence and grades.
Probably this move will meet a strong criticism for the government, as this can be considered an attempt to disguise their own inability to meet targets for reducing child poverty. The previous Labour government has set the target to halve the child poverty and the current one should follow the target. This is the reason why such a move is required.
At this stage the only factor, observed for defining poverty is the income of the household. In case the household`s income is less than 60% of average wages, then the household is considered “in poverty”. Estimations show that in 2011, 2.3m children were below the poverty line, which is 300,000 less than in 2010. Unfortunately, this is not due to improvement in the family status, but a result of the average pay decrease.
In his speech yesterday, Duncan Smith said:
“There are many factors that impact on a child’s wellbeing and ability to succeed in life… and measuring income alone does little to represent the experience of those in poverty. As we saw earlier this year – when the child poverty level dropped by 2% – a fall in the median income may lift a family out of poverty on paper.
“Yet at a closer look, real incomes did not rise and absolute poverty was unchanged. For the 300,000 children no longer in poverty according to the official statistics, life was no different.”
On the other hand, Chris Wellings from charity Save the Children, opposed to the move and warned that making the method of measuring child poverty too broad would obscure how much progress was being made. “The previous measure was very sharp, it allowed us to hold the government to account”.
He added, “Any new measure needs to retain income and needs to retain an ability for us to really hold the government to account for their action on child poverty.”
The government will not succeed in trying to mask the failed targets, the shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne warned.
“If ministers move an inch from the Child Poverty Act they supported in opposition, we will know they are – whilst giving an enormous tax cut to the richest in society.”
People are given the chance to comment and share their views on the consultation at the Department for Education website.
In order to fight poverty, The Legal Stop, recommends Employment contracts – the more people you employ, the less poverty will grow.