So says Frank Field, and he should know. In a paper for Reform (download), he predicts the Government will miss its "audacious" target of halving
child poverty by 2011 and that government policy:

  • "has missed its 2004-05 target of a reduction of a quarter in child poverty and fallen further behind last year"
  • "has seen no change in the numbers of children in severe poverty"
  • "leaves one in five of poor children in persistently poor households"

He found that because of the discrimination against two-parent families:

  • "the risk of poverty has hardly changed for children in two-parent families"
  • "half of all poor children are in working families despite the Government’s belief that working is the best route out of poverty"
  • "the numbers of children in working poor households is back at the level it was in 1995"

The Director of Reform, Andrew Haldenby, told ConservativeHome:

"Child poverty will remain at the heart of politics whoever wins the next election.  The Government’s target to “eradicate” child poverty by 2020 is its defining commitment to social justice.  In November, David Cameron said that the next Conservative Government would seek to reduce poverty in relative terms (in practice the same as the Government’s position).

Current policies will not deliver for either party.  In his latest paper for Reform, Frank Field, the former Minister for Welfare Reform, shows that extra spending on taxes and benefits has amounted to £13 billion since 1997, yet progress on child poverty has stalled since 2001-02.  He makes three recommendations: a redesign of the tax credits system to end the bias against two-parent families (which now contain over half of children in poverty); an improvement to the child support system; and education reform. 

In recent speeches and interviews, both George Osborne and John Hutton have signalled a wish to think about new ways to tackle poverty.  I hope that Frank Field’s ideas will influence their thinking."

The findings of the report are won’t surprise many, but they are yet another damning indictment of Brown’s failed approach to tackling poverty in the long-term. Understandably, Frank is one of the first people to decline an invitation to write for this site!

Deputy Editor

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