The government appears likely to miss its target of halving child poverty by 2010 by at least 600,000 children, according to the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG). The figures were released as part of yesterday's budget (24 March), which CPAG described as “a disappointing budget for poor children”.
Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, said, “Many families have seen their income squeezed… but I believe government have the responsibility to act”.
However, CPAG expressed concern that there is no new investment for the poorest families until two years from now when a small increase in child tax credit will go to families with infants of one and two years old. This is a total annual investment from 2012 of around £180 million.
“The investment in Child Tax Credits from 2012 of £4 a week for families with infants is welcome but is essentially a tiptoe rather than the purposeful stride needed to end child poverty by 2020,” said Imran Hussain, Head of Policy, Rights and Advocacy at CPAG.
The government had a target of halving child poverty in 2010 and eliminating it in 2020. However, budget documents, overlooked by much of the media, suggest that the government will fall short of this target by over half a million children.
“Shamefully the Government is no closer to hitting its own target to halve child poverty by 2010 today than it was yesterday,” said Hussain.
He added, “Every other budget this decade will need to provide far more for families if the 2020 target to eradicate child poverty is to be met and the promise to Britain’s children kept”.
CPAG is one of over 150 member organisations of the Campaign to End Child Poverty, campaigning for public and political commitment to ensure the goals of halving child poverty by 2010 and ending child poverty by 2020 are met.
Hussain insisted that, “Tackling child poverty - its impact on childhoods and life chances and its £25 billion a year cost to society - should be seen as an integral part of the economic recovery, not a luxury that can be afforded only in the good times.”