By Paul Goodman
Follow Paul on Twitter
Today's Daily Mail reports that the Work and Pensions Secretary wants to transform the way in which child poverty is assessed by examining factors other than relative incomes.
So spot the similarity between these words –
Duncan Smith will suggest other factors in determining child poverty –
including whether or not their parents are in work, educational failure,
family breakdown, problem debt and poor health. Work – not a few pounds
extra in welfare handouts – is one of the main factors in lifting
families out of poverty, he will argue."
– and these ones –
"If child poverty really is to be abolished, the Government's
anti-poverty programme must reach beyond raising incomes, and address
the human dimension of poverty in a holistic way – increasing good
parenting, aiding family stability, raising levels of educational
attainment and healthcare and thus boosting children's life chances."
Yes, while the first represent a Conservative Cabinet Minister's view, the second is that of a Select Committee with a Labour majority.
Which confirms that this last extract is not exactly new. It comes from a report on child poverty published during the 2001-2005 Parliament – though it's worth bearing in mind that Gordon Brown's target-drive approach to child poverty was in top gear at that time.
How come I recall this detail? Because I wrote the words myself – and got them inserted into the committee's report, being one of its members at the time. The Labour majority didn't always accept my amendments – but they agreed this one.
As it happens, the surviving Commons Labour members of that committee, Anne Begg and Karen Buck, went head-to-head in the contest to chair the select committee near the start of this Parliament. (Dame Anne won.)
I'll be curious to see whether the pair of them sign up to Mr Duncan Smith's desired change to Labour's child poverty target legacy, details of which of are not exactly new. I hope they're as pleased as I am that the report on which we worked together is not forgotten.