JRF response to changes to the Child Poverty Act

1st Jul 2015

Responding to the statement made today by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on changes to the Child Poverty Act, Julia Unwin, Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) said:

"JRF agrees that raising educational attainment and getting people into work are central to addressing poverty, as well as giving children the opportunities they deserve. We welcome the addition of new indicators because poverty is complex - they must, however, clearly measure their direct effects on poverty. 

"But evidence shows that income matters to children's outcomes and removing the measure from government policy would be a mistake. The current two proposed measures will miss the many families who have one or more parents in work but have very low incomes which damage children's lives now and prospects  for the future. We therefore urge the Government to reinstate an income measure, ideally linked to a cost of living measure, to give a proper focus on families' real ability to afford the basics of life in a decent society. 

"This country needs a comprehensive strategy to reduce poverty across all ages otherwise poverty is likely to rise. Arguing about the measure does not equate to action to reduce poverty. Removing poverty from the remit of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission is a backwards step. JRF wants instead to see a Poverty Commission whose remit would be to hold governments to account on their plans and actions to reduce poverty for all ages.

"Improving productivity, addressing low pay, market reform and affordable housing need to be part of any such strategy. Changing the Child Poverty Act creates an opportunity for action to address these factors and we urge the Government to take these issues seriously so that we can deliver a long-term and sustainable improvement to the life chances of disadvantaged children."