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Child Poverty

Volume 405: debated on Thursday 15 May 2003

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To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which elements of his strategy for relieving child poverty contain measures to increase family incomes. [113297]

As outlined in the December 2001 paper 'Tackling child poverty: giving every child the best possible start in life', the Government's strategy to tackle child poverty includes:

helping to ensure a decent family income, with work for those who can and support for those who can't;
delivering excellent public services for all neighbourhoods and targeted interventions for those with additional needs;
support for parents so that parents can provide better support for their children; and
harnessing the power and expertise of the voluntary and community sectors, providing support for innovation and good practice.
The main measures the Government have taken to increase family incomes to relieve child poverty include:

The introduction of the new Child and Working Tax Credits from April this year, to tackle child poverty and make work pay, ensuring that those who need the most help receive the greatest support. Nine out of 10 families with children are expected to benefit, those with incomes of up to £50,000 will receive at least £545 a year. From April 2004, the child element of the Child Tax Credit will be uprated at least in line with earnings rather than prices for the rest of the Parliament;
The child care element available through the Working Tax Credit, which has been extended from April 2003 to include approved child care in parent's own home, provides additional support for families for whom the cost of child care is a barrier to work parents can receive up to 70 per cent, of eligible child care costs up to £135 a week for one child, up to £200 for two;
Increases in the rates of Child Benefit—this April rates were increased in line with prices from £15.75 to £16.05 a week for the first child in every family, and from £10.55 to £10.75 a week for subsequent children. The rate for the first child is now 25 per cent, higher in real terms than it was in 1997;
Increases in the children's allowances in Income Support and other income related benefits, with rates for children under 11 rising by 80 per cent, in real terms since 1997;
The introduction of the National Minimum Wage in 1999. By October this year, lowest paid workers will have seen an increase in their wages of 25 per cent, since 1999.
Active Labour Market Programmes, such as the New Deal for lone parents, which provides help with training, education and child care, to help lone-parents into work. The employment rate of lone-parents has increased to 54 per cent, year compared to 46 per cent, in 1997.