Child poverty in Britain: past lessons and future prospects

Pub. Date
03 November, 2011

The previous Labour government pledged to abolish child poverty and introduced a range of welfare reforms that emphasised the role of work as the primary route out of poverty. This culminated in the Child Poverty Act (2010) which commits all future governments to the abolition of child poverty. This paper examines New Labour's record on child poverty and examines the factors responsible for its change. While the welfare reforms of the late 1990s did increase work among families with children, this didn't translate into large falls in child poverty. Those entering work still relied on substantial increases in government benefits to lift them over the poverty line. The current coalition government has reaffirmed its commitment to the Child Poverty Act and is also emphasising the role of work. The lessons of the past decade cast severe doubt on whether the current coalition government strategy of promoting work will be any more successful in reducing child poverty. With planned benefit cuts in the pipeline we could well experience some substantial increases in child poverty over the coming years.

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