The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has written to ministers accusing them of failing to fully implement the Child Poverty Act. They insist that this is illegal and that the government is now exposed to the possibility of legal action.
The warning comes ahead of the publication of the government's Child Poverty Strategy, which is expected tomorrow (5 April).
Under the Child Poverty Act, Parliament required that the government publish a Child Poverty Strategy no later than 25 March 2011, and that it establish an independent Child Poverty Commission to undertake consultations during preparation of that strategy.
Last year the government confirmed that the commission must be established in time to contribute to the Child Poverty Strategy.
But while the Child Poverty Strategy will be published tomorrow - alongside the Social Mobility Strategy - the commission has not been established and consulted. CPAG insist that this means the strategy will be unlawful according to the requirements of the Act.
CPAG's Chief Executive, Alison Garnham said that the organisation was "astonished to find the government flouting legal requirements set by Parliament". Ministers had previously supported the requirements.
"The independent commission is crucial to ensuring ministerial accountability for an evidence-based and comprehensive Child Poverty Strategy," argued Garnham.
She added, "One of the Prime Minster’s great promises before he entered office was to ‘make British poverty history’. We need leadership from Downing Street so that ministers do not leave the government mired in a mess of broken laws and broken promises on child poverty in Britain."
CPAG's letter has been sent to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Education Secretary, the Work and Pensions Secretary and relevant junior ministers.
Alison Garnham said, “When the Child Poverty Strategy is published tomorrow, we are calling for a clear commitment from government on the urgent establishment of the Child Poverty Commission and implementation of the Act in full.”