childpovertyThe government should focus less on how to measure child poverty and more on how to eradicate it, a leading children's charity has argued.

A report from the National Children's Bureau (NCB) into latest UK poverty estimates questions whether the government's approach is robust enough and call for an urgent rethink of the current strategy.

The report highlights official estimates that more than a quarter of UK children (27%) live in poverty i.e. on a family income of less than 60% of the UK median.

It add that, while child poverty is at its lowest level since the 1980s, a 2011 study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies predicted that 400,000 more children would be living in relative poverty by 2015-16, partly as a result of changes to the tax and benefits system.

The authors acknowledge that the coalition government sees tackling child poverty as "an important goal". But Enver Solomon of the NCB urged the government "to think more creatively" and examine initiatives in other countries.

"By drawing on approaches from abroad and applying them in the UK, we can not only improve the finances of poorer families but encourage them to engage with services that bring real improvements to health and well-being, so increasing their resilience.

"Government must focus less on how to measure poverty and act decisively to introduce robust mechanisms for ensuring that progress in the fight against child poverty is swift and permanent."

The report's authors say child poverty is "corrosive", with poor children missing out on good housing and a proper diet, and likely to underachieve at school.

They call for a "child poverty board" of ministers to hold all government departments to account, an increase in the number of free hours of early years education and more affordable after-school care.

Other suggestions include cash incentives for parents who promote their children's wellbeing and new "neighbourhood anti-poverty innovation zones", with match-funding from the business sector.

The government's consultation on a new "multi-dimensional measure of poverty" ends today. The proposed new measure is set to include income as well as wider issues such as employment, family stability and education levels.

Posted 15/02/2013 by richard.hook@pavpub.com