Child poverty (August 2015)

As a mother, child poverty is something I feel very strongly about.

I can assure you that eradicating child poverty is an absolute priority for this Government. Increasing amounts are being done to support children and I am delighted the latest figures show child poverty remains at its lowest level since the mid-1980s. Importantly, the proportion of children in workless households is at a record low. 

The way we measured child poverty in the past, based on median income, was deeply flawed. For example, by this measure the number of children in poverty went down significantly during the recent economic recession. That is why the Government has announced new measures to focus on the root causes of poverty, chief among them being educational attainment and levels of work within a family, but also including indicators such as debt, addiction and family breakdown.
Looking at educational attainment, the proportion of children on free school meals getting good GCSEs increased by over 20 per cent between 2010 and 2013. This is the kind of lasting change that makes a real difference to children's futures. The Pupil Premium, worth £2.5 billion in 2015-16, is helping poor children reach their full potential. I welcome that the Government is also introducing tax-free childcare, plus 30 hours of free childcare per week for parents of 3 and 4 year olds.

Universal Credit will lift around 300,000 children out of poverty, while the raising of the personal allowance will lift nearly four million of the lowest paid out of income tax. Crucially, the introduction of the National Living Wage will mean a pay rise for 2.5 million people and those currently on the minimum wage will see their pay increase by a third. This is precisely what the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission recommended as a measure to lift children out of poverty.

August 2015