New measures to lift thousands more children out of poverty announced
New measures to lift thousands more children in the UK out of poverty by getting more parents into work have been announced by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions John Hutton.
'Working for Children' sets out how the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will help parents to lift themselves and their children out of poverty through employment. It was published alongside the Households Below Average Income figures for 2005/2006, which showed a rise in the number of children in relative poverty of 100,000 from 2004/2005 to 2005/2006. The number of children in absolute poverty remained unchanged. There has been progress on the material deprivation measure and the number of pensioners in relative poverty has fallen by 100,000 in the last year.
Building on the announcements made in the Budget to take a further 200,000 children out of poverty by increasing tax credits and wider support for parents, 'Working for Children' refocuses £150 million of resources within the Department for Work and Pensions towards greater support for families.
* Piloting a 'New Deal for Families' approach so more families get access to support that is often only available for lone parents. To do this we will extend support available in the New Deal for Lone Parents Plus pilot areas to all families with children in those areas.
* Extending the New Deal for Lone Parents Plus scheme to help more lone parents benefit from this service and signalling initial support, ahead of a period of consultation, for recommendations from David Freud to increase obligations on lone parents with older children to look for work.
* Providing more support to families, particularly in London where employment rates lag, by including widening and improving the in-work credit scheme which provides additional financial support for lone parents as they make the transition to work.
* Changing Jobcentre Plus systems so parents are properly identified in the benefit system for the first time and recording the childcare needs and preferences of all parents - not just lone parents as at present.
* Providing advice and support for the partners of parents claiming Jobseekers Allowance, with the introduction of mandatory six-monthly work-focused interviews for this group.
Mr Hutton said:
"We have made considerable progress against our historic goal to end child poverty in the UK, with 600,000 children helped out of poverty since 1997 and child poverty in the UK falling faster in the last ten years than in any other European country.
"But we need to go further towards what is a very tough goal to reach. The measures announced in the Budget and built on today will help take hundreds of thousands children out of poverty in the years ahead and emphasise the importance of work as the sustainable route out of poverty for families in Britain."
The document published today forms the latest part of the government's overarching strategy on child poverty, which was published in 2004, and is in response to a report by independent policy advisor Lisa Harker in November 2006, commissioned by the DWP, which made a number of recommendations on what more needs to be done to reduce child poverty.
Minister of State for Employment and Welfare Reform Jim Murphy said:
"The majority of the rise in relative child poverty this year appears to be accounted for by a rise in the number of self-employed households in poverty, whose incomes are recorded with considerable error. It is the trend over time that matters for children, and under this government we have decisively reversed rising child poverty in the 1980's and 1990's and instead put it on a firm downward trend.
"But, we must be more determined than ever to continue with the significant achievements that have been made over the last decade. Progress on tackling pensioner poverty demonstrates what can be achieved.
"We have always acknowledged that the target we set ourselves was ambitious and challenging, that was why we asked Lisa Harker to look at our policies and to make additional recommendations on the work that had to be done and asked David Freud to review our employment programmes."
Notes to editors
Copies of 'Working for Children' can be downloaded from http://www.dwp.gov.uk
The latest figures on child, pensioner and working-age adult poverty can be found in Households Below Average Income (HBAI) 2005/06. HBAI figures can be downloaded from http://www.dwp.gov.uk along with a statistical press notice.
In March 1999, the Prime Minister pledged to eradicate child poverty within a generation. This pledge was underpinned by ambitious targets - to reduce child poverty by a quarter by 2004/05, by a half by 2010/11 and to eradicate it by 2020. Though the Government narrowly missed the 2004/05 target, significant progress has been made.
In June 2006 the DWP commissioned independent advisor Lisa Harker to carry out an independent review of our child poverty strategy. 'Delivering on Child Poverty: what would it take?' was published in November 2006. Copies can be downloaded from http://www.dwp.gov.uk
John Hutton announced the David Freud review in a speech made on Monday 18th December 2006. His speech is available on the DWP website at: http://www.dwp.gov.uk/aboutus/2006/18-12-06.asp
David Freud's report 'Reducing Dependency, Increasing Opportunity: options for the future of welfare to work' is available on the DWP website.