To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what steps his Department is taking to achieve the Government's targets of (a) ending child poverty by 2020, (b) halving it by 2010 and (c) reducing it by a quarter by 2004–05; and if he will make a statement.
The fifth annual 'Opportunity for all' (Cm 5956) report sets out the latest assessment of progress in tackling child poverty, showing significant progress.
As set out in "Tackling Child Poverty—Giving Every Child the Best Possible Start in Life", published in December 2001, the Government's strategy for tackling child poverty involves ensuring decent family incomes, with work for those who can and support for those who cannot, and providing support for parents. It also involves delivering high quality public services and harnessing the power and expertise of the voluntary and community sectors.
Based on the latest outturn data (for 2001–02) we have made significant progress on our PSA target to reduce the number of children in low-income households by a quarter by 2004–05. The 2003 Pre-Budget Report announced that the per child element of the Child Tax Credit will increase from April 2004 by £180 to £1,625 a year, equivalent to a weekly increase of £3.50.
As a result of this new investment, the Government is on track to meet its PSA target to reduce by a quarter the number of children in low-income households by 2004–05 on a before housing costs basis. The target is more challenging on an after housing costs basis. The nature of the target means that there are uncertainties either way. This extra investment will enable the Government to make progress step by step towards its goal to halve child poverty by 2010 and eradicate it by 2020.
The 2003 Budget announced a Child Poverty Review to examine, for the next Spending Review, the welfare reform and public services changes needed to advance faster towards its long-term goals to halve and then eradicate child poverty. The review is under way, with a series of seminars having been held during the autumn covering issues such as ethnic minority groups, educational outcomes, parenting, early years services, health outcomes, supporting families with disabled children and deprived areas. The Review will feed into the 2004 Spending Review.
In December 2003 we published Measuring Child Poverty, which outlines our measure of child poverty for the long term, effective from 2004–05. A copy is available in the Library.