Supporting families into work, improving living standards and raising educational attainment are the fundamental aims set out in the government’s child poverty strategy, published today (26 June 2014).
As part of the government’s long-term economic plan to build a fairer society, the strategy sets out what is being done to tackle the root causes of child poverty, building on the first strategy published in 2011.
The government remains committed to the goal of ending child poverty in the UK by 2020 by breaking the cycle of disadvantage based on the principle that where someone starts in life should not determine where they end up. Work is the best route out of poverty, with a child in a workless family 3 times as likely to be in relative poverty compared to a family where at least 1 parent works.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said:
This strategy outlines our commitment to tackling the root causes of poverty and delivering lasting change that makes a real difference to children’s life chances.
Despite tough economic times over the last few years, we’ve introduced reforms to the welfare system that are transforming the lives of the most vulnerable in our society. As part of the government’s long-term economic plan we are supporting more families into work, improving living standards and raising educational attainment.
Work remains the best route out of poverty and with the economy now growing again we have more people in work than ever before, as well as fewer children in workless households than at any time since records began. These children now not only have a wage-earner in the household, but perhaps even more importantly, they also have a role model to look up to.
Schools Minister David Laws said:
It is impossible to overstate the impact poverty can have on a child’s education.
I am proud of the progress we have already made – investing £3.75 billion in the Pupil Premium, being used by schools to close the attainment gap and we have now extended the Pupil Premium to 3 and 4 year olds. In addition, from September all infant school children will receive a healthy meal for free, to make sure they are ready to learn and can get the most from their time at school.
Poorer children are doing better than ever at school but still more than 6 out of 10 still fail to secure good grades. We are determined to improve the prospects of all children so that they have the best possible opportunities later in life.
Good progress has already been made in tackling child poverty. Despite the tough economic climate, employment has increased by nearly 1.7 million since 2010 and there are now record numbers of people in work.
Since 2010 the number of children aged under 16 in workless households has fallen by 290,000 and there are 300,000 fewer children living in relative income poverty. Poor children are also doing better than ever at school, with the proportion of children on free school meals getting 5 good GCSEs including English and maths increasing from 31% in 2010 to 38% in 2013.
Actions set out in the strategy which the government are taking from 2014 to 2017 to tackle child poverty include the following.
Supporting families into work by:
- helping businesses to create jobs
- helping people to take up work through Jobcentre Plus and schemes such as the Work Programme and the Troubled Families Programme
- making work pay and having clearer work incentives through introducing Universal Credit, with more help for childcare
- tackling low pay by raising the minimum wage and the personal tax allowance, continuing to lift low-income families out of the tax system
- helping people move on to better jobs and improving the qualifications of parents through adult apprenticeships, investing in English and maths and helping parents through the National Careers Service
Reducing costs to support people’s living standards by:
- reducing energy, extending the Warm Home Discount and helping people to make their homes more energy efficient
- capping the bills of low-income families with 3 or more children on a water meter and promoting social tariffs
- reducing food costs for low-income families through introducing free school meals for all infant school pupils alongside Healthy Start Vouchers for young children, breakfast clubs in deprived areas, and free fruit and vegetables at school for primary school children
- reducing transport costs for low-income families
- increasing access to affordable credit for low income families through expanding credit unions
Raising educational attainment by:
- increasing the number of poor children getting quality pre-school education
- introducing an Early Years Pupil Premium to help ensure 3 and 4 year olds from the most disadvantaged backgrounds get the best start in life
- ensuring poor children do better at school by giving disadvantaged pupils an additional £14,000 throughout their school career – a £2.5 billion a year commitment through the Pupil Premium
- supporting poor children to stay in education post-16 through training, apprenticeships, traineeships, and better careers advice
- helping parents provide the best possible home environment by supporting parenting classes and providing free books to poor families
- helping parents who experience mental health issues, investing in drug and alcohol dependency treatment and supporting young carers
- increasing support for children with Special Educational Needs
The Child Poverty Act 2010 requires us to set a persistent child poverty target by December 2014. To achieve this we are also publishing today a consultation on a persistent child poverty target
Read the Child Poverty Strategy 2014-17
Media enquiries for this press release – 0203 267 5161
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