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Poverty: Children

Volume 488: debated on Monday 23 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department has taken to reduce levels of child poverty in (a) England, (b) the North East, (c) the Tees Valley and (d) Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland constituency since 1997. (256401)

Since 1998-99, 600,000 children have been lifted out of relative poverty and the number of children in absolute poverty has halved from 3.4 to 1.7 million.

Government measures over the past two years will lift around a further 500,000 children from relative poverty. these include increasing the rate of child benefit and disregarding child benefit in calculating income for housing benefit and council tax benefit from October 2009.

We have also helped nearly 600,000 lone parents into work through the new deal for lone parents programme. As two-fifths of children in poverty live in lone parent families, new deal for lone parents is invaluable in contributing to the target of abolishing child poverty.

A number of pilot schemes will be introduced shortly to trial innovative initiatives to reduce child poverty. The Work-Focused Services in Children's Centres initiative will pilot in Redcar and Cleveland, with other child poverty pilots to be trialled in other local authorities within the north-east region.

Legislation, planned for this session, will ensure all levels of Government play their part in meeting our target to eradicate child poverty by 2020.