Four-year plan to “tackle the root causes of child poverty” published by DWP
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has published a report documenting future plans to “tackle the root causes of child poverty”.
Building on its initial strategy published in 2011, the coalition government has structured a 4-year plan (2014 – 2017) in the hope of “ending child poverty in the UK by 2020”.
Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: “Despite tough economic times over the last few years, we’ve introduced reforms to the welfare system that are transforming the lives of the most vulnerable in our society. As part of the government’s long-term economic plan we are supporting more families into work, improving living standards and raising education attainment.”
Part of the strategy’s aim is to support working families and create “affordable” childcare through the universal credit (UC) system. Using data collected by the Family Resource Survey 2010/11, the strategy aims to provide UC to all households with children who are living 60% below the median income line (before housing costs).
Child Poverty Action Group’s senior officer, Lindsay Judge, recently commented on the introduction of UC following the poverty analysis report Dismantling the Barriers of Social Mobility, saying: “The new benefit’s ability to make work pay and reduce poverty is to a large degree contingent on circumstances beyond its control. Tackling low pay, incentivising employers to offer a reasonable number of hours, and ensuring childcare is of high enough quality that parents actually want to use it will be essential if UC is to deliver on its many promises.”
Although the strategy leans heavily on benefit distribution and the provision of a solid education system, it asks employers to understand their role in ending child poverty by paying “decent wages”, supporting flexible working hours and to offer “recognised training and qualifications” to their employees.
With aims to improve on maternal employment, the strategy hopes to eradicate what the TUC (Trades Union Congress) coined, the “Iron Triangle”.
In 2013, the strategy reports that 203,000 adults were receiving less than the national minimum wage. The government urges employers not only to address this situation, but to raise wages to pay the living wage for their locale.
By providing consistent quality education from pre-school to post-school careers advice, the strategy also aims to prevent “poor children from becoming poor adults”.
Schools minister David Law said: “Poorer children are doing better than ever at school but still more than 6 out of 10 still fail to secure good grades. We are determined to improve the prospects of all children so that they have the best possible opportunities later in life.”