Department for Work and Pensions
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Government launches consultation for better measurements of child poverty

A consultation is being launched by the Government, to call for a better measurement of child poverty that reflects the reality in the UK recently.

The current measures focus on a family’s income and now the Government wants to look at how a wider measurement can be developed, to tackle the root causes of poverty including worklessness, educational failure and family breakdown.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, launching the consultation at Clyde Children’s Centre in Deptford, South East London said:

"It is widely understood that the current relative income measure by itself is not providing an accurate picture of child poverty.

"Having such a narrow focus can drive perverse decisions, rather than asking whether a sustainable difference has been made to a family’s life. This is about transforming their outcomes so they do not slip back below the ‘poverty line’.

"Life change is the key to moving people out of poverty by addressing the issues that hold some families back.  People should be able to get on in life, no matter what their background."

Minister of State for Schools, David Laws, said:

"Traditionally we have defined poverty simply by income. But this is not enough. The experience of child poverty is about more than whether their family income this week is low.

"This consultation is not about abandoning the past. Nor is it about massaging the figures. It is instead about recognising the many dimensions of child poverty and concentrating policy on longer term solutions and not on short term fixes."

The previous Government’s target to halve child poverty by 2010 was not achieved. And whilst the relative child poverty numbers fell in the last year, children were no better off in real terms as this decrease was due to a lowering of the median income level.

This underlines that looking at relative income in isolation is misleading – it cannot be right that because median incomes fall, children are considered to have moved out of poverty when there will have been no real change to their lives.

That is why the Government is now launching a consultation to look at a more complete picture of what it means to be in poverty. To take part in the consultation please visit the following link before 15 February 2013:

Notes to Editors:

  • Relative poverty is the most commonly used poverty line - 60% of median income.
  • The previous government set a target to reduce the number of children living in relative income poverty to 1.7 million by 2010/11. This was not met, in 2010/11 2.3 million children were living in relative income poverty.
  • In 2010/11 there was a reduction of 300,000 children living in relative income poverty. This was not the result of incomes rising for the poorest, but was largely due to a significant drop in the median income.

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