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Children: Poverty

Volume 463: debated on Monday 23 July 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will make it his policy to introduce (a) a measure of severe poverty and (b) a severe child poverty action plan; and if he will make a statement. (148295)

The chapter on child poverty in last year's Opportunity for All strategy report outlined the breadth of work underway across Government to ensure that our targets to halve and ultimately eradicate child poverty are met. These commitments reflect our wider ambition to ensure that every child has the best start in life and has an equal opportunity to fulfil their potential. We are making good progress; there were 600,000 fewer children in poverty in the UK (as measured by relative low income) in 2005-06 than there were in 1998-99.

The Government's long-term measure for child poverty already includes three indicators developed following extensive consultation initiated by the DWP: absolute low income, relative low income, and material deprivation combined with relative low income. This long-term measure is also underpinned by the poverty and social exclusion indicators within Opportunity for All.

There are a number of ways that depth of poverty can be measured. Our Opportunity for All indicators includes a range of income thresholds. In addition, we have a lower income threshold implied by the absolute low income tier within our long-term measure. These indicators enable us to analyse different depths of poverty and respond accordingly.