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The scandal of child poverty in the UK needs action now

Release Date: 15 Nov 2012

Today marks the start of a 12 week government consultation looking at how child poverty is measured and defined in the UK. Barnardo’s believes that child poverty will only be tackled when action is taken to improve both the income and the access to services that the poorest families have.

What is the consultation?

The question at the heart of the consultation is likely to be whether or not money truly makes a difference to the most deprived families.

We need action now and not more talking

Barnardo’s is concerned that the government is seeking to change the definition of poverty and the way it is measured because it knows how far off it is from meeting the 2020 target to end child poverty.

Changing the way that child poverty is defined is not an acceptable scapegoat for facing the facts: the Institute for Fiscal Studies projections show that by 2020 a further 1 million children will be pushed into poverty unless action is taken now.

If this consultation is an attempt to distract from the lack of tangible measures put in place to meet the existing target of ending child poverty by 2020, it is simply smoke and mirrors. Moving the goal posts will do absolutely nothing to help those who are languishing in poverty right now, nor will it help future generations.

What Barnardo’s believe is needed to tackle child poverty

Too much time has gone by with too much rhetoric and too little action. Even while this consultation is ongoing, the government has a chance to take actions that can begin to make a difference.

They can start by:

  • Tackling debt by providing all families with clear access to a bank account and low interest loans ahead of the introduction of universal credit;
  • Ensuring benefit take-up by educating families on what they are entitled to and how to claim it;
  • Make addressing fuel poverty a priority, so that families are no longer priced out of heating their homes.
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