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Child Poverty Bill

Part of Bill Presented — Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:37 pm on 20th July 2009.

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Photo of Yvette Cooper Yvette Cooper The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 4:37 pm, 20th July 2009

In fact, as I have just explained, the material deprivation target looks more broadly at the kinds of material circumstances in which families can find themselves. However, we have been clear that it is right to look at the relative poverty target because of the impact that that has on other aspects of children's lives, and for all their lives.

We also know that if we are concerned to increase family income, often the best way of doing so is by looking at how to get more parents into work and increase their skills and employability, so that they can get better-paid jobs in future. However, we also know that family income can have a significant impact on children's chances throughout their lives. It is simply unfair that some children should fall so far behind others and lose their chance to get on in life and properly fulfil their potential because of their family circumstances in early childhood.

Our main child poverty target has always been a relative poverty target and it must stay so. It means that as society becomes more prosperous, all our children must share in that prosperity. As the incomes of better-off families grow, the poorest families must not get left further behind, because if they do their children will fall further behind-and not just today, but potentially for decades to come.

The Bill goes further, because for the first time we are highlighting the importance of tackling persistent poverty. That, after all, is where the greatest harm for children lies. In the end, no Government action can prevent everything that goes wrong in families or causes problems for the children. However, we can work to help to get people the support that they need as soon as possible, so that the family is not trapped in poverty for years at a time.

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