Campaigners have welcomed the news of a fall in child poverty - but warned that the government's policies are likely to push it back up again.
Official statistics for 2009-10, published yesterday (12 May), show that child poverty has fallen to 20 per cent, the lowest level since 1984. In the 1960s and 70s, it was typically at 10-15 per cent.
“It is great news that child poverty fell during what was a terribly hard year for families and the economy," said Alison Garnham, Chief Executive of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), "The investment in extra support for low income families worked, which means British people will avoid some of the social and economic costs that followed the recession and cuts in the 1980s".
But CPAG also pointed out that the Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned that child poverty will increase as a result of the government's cuts.
"David Cameron must keep his promise to make British poverty history and make sure the fall in child poverty continues," argued Garnham, "But cuts to public services, tax credits and childcare support mean fewer people will be better off in work, with fewer jobs to go round".
She said that the figures provide another reason for calling the cuts programme into question. "The fall in material deprivation for children after the worst recession for decades shows that direct financial support for families improves children’s wellbeing, even in tough times," she insisted.
CPAG also criticised the Prime Minister for a Child Poverty Strategy that does not say how many children will be lifted out of poverty.
"Are they hiding bad news?" asked Garnham, "Without robust action to tackle problems like lack of jobs, poverty pay, unaffordable childcare and Britain’s critical shortage of social housing, the government’s strategy lacks credibility".