The government’s failure on child poverty
The End Child Poverty coalition has just released the results of an opinion poll that shows 82 per cent of British people think that tackling child poverty should be a government priority. This includes:
- 92 per cent of Labour voters
- 80 per cent of those planning to vote for UKIP
- 80 per cent of Liberal Democrats
- 77 per cent of Conservatives
In other words, at a time when the government is unpopular, the people who still plan to vote for them think that tackling child poverty is a priority by a majority of more than three-to-one.
And 64 per cent of people think the government should be doing more. These are important results (full disclosure: the TUC is an active member of End Child Poverty) because voters who take child poverty seriously are going to be very disillusioned by the government’s performance. Last month, the Institute for Fiscal Studies forecast that:
In the UK, relative child poverty is projected to increase by 6.0ppts between 2010–11 and 2020–21, reversing all of the reductions between 2000–01 and 2010–11.
On the headline measure, the IFS forecasts that the number of children in relative poverty will increase by 1.1 million between 2010-11 and 2020–21. Without the government’s tax and benefit reforms child poverty “would actually have fallen.”
Remember this forecast tomorrow when the Department for Work and Pensions publishes the 2011/12 Households Below Average Income statistics. This is the government’s annual poverty publication, the source of the figures for the numbers of children and others in poverty.
It’s very likely that the number of children in relative poverty will be much the same or even a bit lower than in 2010-11. This does not mean that austerity isn’t hurting children in poverty. These figures are for 2011-12, a period when the vast majority of benefit cuts had not yet been implemented. Some truly awful reforms, like the benefit cap, the bedroom tax and the Welfare Benefits Uprating Bill didn’t come into effect till this April. The HBAI for 2013 – 14 won’t be published till May or June 2015.
(Of course, the fact that this will be just after the next general election doesn’t have the slightest whiff of conspiracy.)