Anger as Tories change child poverty definition

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Charities hit out after ​Iain Duncan Smith announces he'll change how child poverty is defined 

2nd July 2015 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Anti-poverty campaigners have reacted with anger to the UK government’s plans to scrap current child poverty definitions.

Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith said he planned to scrap measures introduced by Labour in 2010 - which define a child as being poor when he or she lives in a household with an income below 60% of the UK's average.

He said this measure was considered to be "deeply flawed and a poor test of whether children's lives are genuinely improving".

The move comes as the three UK children’s commissioners reported the government to the UN for increasing child poverty.

Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance said the new measurements mean that children in low income working households may not be classed as living in poverty, despite potentially not having enough money to live on.

We are calling on the UK government to reverse this decision - Peter Kelly

“With over half of all children in poverty living in a household where someone works, it is more important than ever to think about in work poverty,” he said.  

“It is also vital that we take inequality into account. 

“Inequality is not only bad for the individual but bad for our society and our economy. 

“We are calling on the UK government to reverse this decision and ensure that our child poverty measures are as meaningful and effective as they can be.”

Duncan Smith said the existing framework was overly simplistic and "obsessed by targets", resulting in the skewing of resources and outcomes.

He said new legislation would introduce a statutory duty to report on worklessness and levels of educational attainment, focused on changes in the number of long-term workless households and GCSE attainment for all pupils.

However Scottish Government welfare minister Margaret Burgess said previous attempts by the UK government to change child poverty definitions had failed.

She said: “We are not surprised the UK government is trying again to change the definition of poverty, given last week’s shocking statistics showed child poverty increasing at UK level with 28% of children living in relative poverty, after housing costs were paid.

“This comes before the proposed £12 billion cuts from benefits which will mean even more children growing up in poverty."

In 2013/14 350,000 families in Scotland relied on tax credits to boost their incomes with 500,000 children benefitting from this support.

Burgess added: “For this lifeline to be cut will only have a further devastating impact on children in Scotland and throughout the UK.”