UK failing to hit targets to eradicate child poverty by 2020

UK failing to hit targets to eradicate child poverty by 2020

The State of the Nation 2014 report, which was published and laid before Parliament yesterday (20th October 2014) shows an ever increasing divide between the richest and poorest in the UK.

The commission warns that Britain needs to get social recovery “back on track” to stick to its promise of abolishing child poverty in the UK by 2020.

Among startling statistics surrounding social mobility and a widespread downturn economic recovery, the Child Poverty Commission said: “[…] even world-beating performance on employment, levels, hours and wages won’t enable the child poverty targets to be hit […]”.

Chair of the commission and former Labour cabinet minister Alan Milburn expressed exasperation at the coalition government’s inability to agree on an effective child poverty strategy: “You cannot have a situation where government ministers first discredit a target and then fail to agree a new target and then go back to a discredited old target,” he said. “That is beyond a Whitehall farce.”

The report has suggested 12 key recommendations to improve the quality of life for UK citizens, with a focus on supplementing the existing child poverty targets to ensure that reforms are made.

The commission suggests the following child-centred targets:

  • Ensure 85% of children are “school ready” at age five by 2020
  • Remove child care tax breaks from families where are least one parent earns over £100,000 per annum
  • Encourage the “best teachers into the worst school” by introducing a Teachers’ Pay Premium, increasing pay by 25% for teachers working in the most challenging schools
  • Prioritise closing the attainment gap between poorer and better-off children by ensuring that by 2020 more than half of the children entitled to free school meals are achieving five good GCSEs, rising to two-thirds by 2025

Speaking to the BBC, Milburn said: “While looking at the facts, which are pretty shocking, it seems completely untenable that the child poverty target which were set back in 2010, are going to be hit in 2020. And I don’t think any of the political parties, in truth, have been willing to speak to that uncomfortable truth. So, I guess we look to the next government to ensure that new targets are set and a new timescale is set to also achieve them.”