Child poverty could rise under government’s welfare plan

Child poverty is likely to increase in Britain despite the government’s strategy of encouraging more families into work, according to a leading Sussex economist.

Professor Richard Dickens, whose report was published on 2 November in the journal of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), examined the previous government’s record on child poverty and found that the same approach did not translate into large falls in child poverty. 

When Labour came into power in 1997, one in four of all children in Britain lived in relative income poverty (a household whose income is less than 60 per cent of the median income). 

By 2010, the Labour government had not achieved its target of reducing the figures by half. One in five children was still classed as living in poverty. 

Professor Dickens says: “The lessons of the past decade tell us that work alone is not enough to lift people out of poverty - many need tax credits to top up their income. 

“And with planned benefit cuts in the pipeline, we could well experience a substantial increase in the number of children living in poverty over the coming years. 

“Currently, the government doesn’t have a credible plan as to how it is going to meet the targets as set out in the Child Poverty Act. This is what we need to see soon if we are going to see the sort of poverty reductions required by 2020.” 

Professor Dicken’s report, ‘Child Poverty in Britain: Past lessons and future prospects’, was one of four papers published by the NIESR in the National Institute Economic Review on 2 November.