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Child Poverty

Volume 495: debated on Monday 29 June 2009

7. What recent assessment she has made of progress towards meeting the Government’s 2010 child poverty target. (282353)

We expect to lift about a further 500,000 children out of poverty with the measures announced in and since Budget 2007. We have already lifted 500,000 children out of relative poverty and halved the number living in absolute poverty since 1997.

The question was about the Government’s 2010 child poverty target. Is it not time that they came clean and admitted that it will not be met?

Everyone, even the hon. Gentleman, must understand that in the current economic circumstances meeting the 2010 target is a real challenge. However, in the middle of a recession we are continuing to take action, which is why we published the Child Poverty Bill this month. Our approach contrasts starkly with the policies that his party pursued. Had we continued with those—

The increase in child poverty in each of the last three years would seem to justify the Treasury Committee’s belief that the Government will miss their 2010 target to halve child poverty by a significant margin. Many of us were hoping to debate the Child Poverty Bill today, but can the Minister tell the House how it will foster enterprise in those areas in which more than half of the working age population are not in work, and what it will do to strengthen families, given that we know that the children of parents who separate are more than a third more likely to be unemployed themselves?

As the hon. Gentleman must be aware, the Child Poverty Bill includes the scope for strategies with local authorities to deal with the regional differences to which he referred. It would be helpful if he could indicate whether he intends to support the Bill, which will make a significant difference to children in this country.

What steps are the Government taking to co-operate with the Governments in Cardiff and Edinburgh in respect of their equally ambitious anti-child poverty programmes, especially given that those Governments face cuts, by some accounts, of several hundred million pounds over the next few years?

The strategy that will be written under the Child Poverty Bill will be UK-wide, but of course the devolved Administrations are free to make their own choices in the areas of health and education. The decisions they make are a matter for them.