Return to main page

What would actually have to happen for the government to meet its objective of ending child poverty?  

Since Tony Blair pledged to do so in 1999, all political parties have committed to ending child poverty. None has so far set out a convincing plan about how they will achieve this.

In 2006, my report for the Joseph  Rowntree Foundation, What will it take to end child poverty, was the first costed attempt to say what  would be needed to meet government targets. The interim answer - 4 billion more than planned to halve child poverty by 2010 - was taken up in a strong campaign by the children's charities. The result was that Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling did find half this sum, 2 billion, in the 2007 and 2008 budgets. Unfortunately, however, the recession has made the job more expensive again. In 2009, my update reports for JRF and End Child Poverty showed that 4 billion is still needed, and in October 09 I was questioned on the issues involved by the Commons Committee considering the Child Poverty Bill.

I have also brought together evidence about the costs of child poverty showing that 25 billion a year could be saved or generated by ending it. This makes the 4 billion look like a good deal. But our analysis of the longer-term strategies needed to end child poverty completely would involve a lot more than public transfers. My work quantifying links between child poverty,  poor educational outcomes and poor health outcomes shows how far we are from the more equitable world in which child poverty is consigned to history.
Key findings

  • Under existing systems for uprating benefits and tax credits, families on low incomes will continue to fall further behind
  • About 4 billion more a year was needed in 2006 to meet government targets to halve child poverty by 2010
  • Full eradication of child poverty requires both a better system for ensuring that levels of  benefits and tax credits keep up with a growing economy and radical changes in the distribution of educational and work opportunities.
Further information: JRF microsite on child poverty

Theme: Income and poverty