Child Poverty

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:28 pm on 28th September 2000.

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Photo of Baroness Hollis of Heigham Baroness Hollis of Heigham Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Social Security 3:28 pm, 28th September 2000

My Lords, I know that the Conservatives do not find that information particularly comfortable, but we inherited a situation in which we had twice as many children in poverty as France or Germany. That is why we have taken initiatives such as the working families tax credit and the Sure Start programme. Had the noble Lord listened to the reply that I attempted to give to the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, and to the noble Earl, Lord Russell, he would have heard that there are two figures for testing child poverty: the Child Poverty Action Group uses the figure of 50 per cent below mean income, whereas the Government use the figure of 60 per cent below median income, which avoids the statistics being skewed by a few at the top. Under those figures and under the Government's programme, not only are 250,000 fewer children living in poverty, even more importantly, 200,000 fewer children are living on benefits for more than two years. As we all know, it is not just how many children are on benefit, but how long they persist on benefit that determines their life chances.