Thursday, July 02, 2015

The UK gives up on child poverty

One of the few good things that Tony Blair did as Prime Minister of the UK was to legislate for a statutory target for the reduction of child poverty. This not only represented a commitment to eliminate this scourge, but it also ensured constant monitoring. But the current UK government wants to cut welfare spending, which will almost certainly make things worse. Their solution? Repeal the target and the reporting:

The government is to scrap its child poverty target and replace it with a new duty to report levels of educational attainment, worklessness and addiction, rather than relative material disadvantage, work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith has said.


The downgrading of the existing target comes before a big cut in tax credits, expected in the 8 July budget as part of a drive to cut the welfare budget.

The cuts to tax credits would have made it even harder to reach the old child poverty target by 2020, the target date set by Labour and the end point of this parliament. Although some MPs welcomed the attempt to focus on the root causes of poverty, the removal of the material income target was denounced by Labour as the obituary notice for compassionate Conservatism.

So, replace reporting about poverty with reporting clearly aimed at demonising the poor. Because that's what tories do. But its also clear that the government has simply given up, and that they have no intention of doing anything to help. The UK will be paying the cost of that for decades to come.