Child poverty is rising, but not if you believe the latest set of ‘official government statistics’, and the trend is only going to get worse.
The way child poverty is measured is set to change, and a new system could be unveiled before the summer recess.
With a consultation complete in the last Parliament, there is nothing to stop ministers moving quickly.
No one should be surprised, as the change has been long trailed.
For years Conservatives have argued that the current poverty measure – the proportion of children living in households earning less than 60% of median income – is inadequate:
- It was criticised in 2011 by the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith
- In 2014, Mr Duncan Smith and Chancellor George Osborne said the Conservatives would introduce “better measures”
- The party’s election manifesto promised – once more – “better measures to drive real change in children’s lives”.
But if internal Conservative differences barred change in the past, its time now appears to have come.
David Cameron argues the existing indicator has perverse results: child poverty is deemed to have risen when the state pension goes up.
What should replace it? There are clues to that answer again in recent Conservative history.
When Gordon Brown’s Labour government passed a law legally binding the government to eradicate child poverty by 2020 Conservatives argued for targets that did not relate to family income.
They wanted assessments of the number of households with parents in long-term relationships and households where parents were addicted to drugs, alcohol or gambling for example.
That law is now set to be either repealed or amended.
When the announcement is made, Conservatives will say they have been consistent and that their approach will improve lives.
The political challenge will be to persuade voters this is not a response to what are anticipated to be worsening child poverty figures, or an attempt to mask the impact of equally widely anticipated cuts to tax credits.
In short – can a Conservative government that says it is governing for “One Nation” unpick the rules around measuring and cutting the number of poor children in Britain without being accused of cynicism?
Of course, the Government had come under fire in recent years for missing child poverty targets, so it is no surprise that they are massaging the figures. The headlines of child poverty falling have been reported, but this was for a small time range and wasn’t recent. Of course, JSUK News is always sceptical of DWP statistics anyway, following the way unemployment statistics are manipulated.
6 years ago it was estimated that the Government would have to spend £4.2 billion a year more in tax credits to combat child poverty and now, they are on about cutting them. It is known that other austerity cuts to benefits have lead to a rise in poverty, homelessness, suicides and depression. Those who support the next round of welfare cuts are essentially supporting a rise in poverty across the board, but as long as the news keeps quoting misused and fiddled statistics, the supporters egos will be tricked into thinking they are supporting the right thing, when in reality, no sane thinking person would wish this reality on a child, adult, dog or cat.
The videos below are from 2014:
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