Monday, 1 April 2013

Child poverty: welfare changes will have devastating impact

The dreadful welfare changes that happen today will hit many households hard. These changes will also have a devastating impact on child poverty.

Figures show that the number of children living in poverty will increase because of the government's changes to the benefits system and tax credits. The Institute of Fiscal Studies project 800,000 more children will be living in poverty by 2020 because of the coalition's welfare cuts. On top this a further 200,000 children could fall below the poverty line because of the benefit uprating changes (increasing benefits by 1% instead of at the rate of inflation).

At the same time as pushing through these changes the Government has also been consulting on how child poverty should be measured. This has been seen as a way to downplay the importance of income in measuring poverty, the government arguing that other social and economic factors should be included in a single 'multidimensional' measure of poverty. I disagree with this approach. Attempts to redefine measures of child poverty which downplay the importance of an adequate income as a central measure should be resisted.

This critique of the Government's approach and consultation by Alison Garnham of Child Poverty Action Group is worth reading.

The Leicester Child Poverty Commission which I chair has also responded to the Government consultation, the response can be read here.

The Leicester Child Poverty Commission Report, with 66 recommendations on tackling child poverty and its worst impacts, can be found on the Your Britain website. I hope people will comment and share their thoughts. Reducing child poverty has to be a central theme of Labour's thinking as we develop policy solutions to the challenges we are seeing today.

In February the End Child Poverty campaign published the child poverty rate for each local authority and parliamentary constituency in the country. Of course data at local authority and constituency level does not tell the full story; areas with overall relatively low levels often have wards where rates of child poverty are extremely high.

I have set out the data for the East Midlands below:

Child Poverty by local authority in the East Midlands

Amber Valley
15%
Ashfield
20%
Bassetlaw
16%
Blaby
7%
Bolsover
20%
Boston
16%
Broxtowe
12%
Charnwood
11%
Chesterfield
18%
Corby
18%
Daventry
9%
Derby City
22%
Derbyshire Dales
7%
East Lindsey
19%
East Northamptonshire
10%
Erewash
16%
Gedling
13%
Harborough
5%
High Peak
11%
Hinckley & Bosworth
10%
Kettering
13%
Leicester City
29%
Lincoln
22%
Mansfield
21%
Melton
8%
Newark & Sherwood
14%
North East Derbyshire
13%
North Kesteven
8%
North West Leicestershire
11%
Northampton
18%
Nottingham City
32%
Oadby & Wigston
11%
Rushcliffe
5%
Rutland
5%
South Derbyshire
11%
South Holland
13%
South Kesteven
11%
South Northamptonshire
Below 5%
Wellingborough
16%
West Lindsey
13%


 Child Poverty by parliamentary constituency in the East Midlands

Amber Valley
18%
Ashfield
21%
Bassetlaw
16%
Bolsover
20%
Boston & Skegness
18%
Bosworth
10%
Broxtowe
11%
Charnwood
7%
Chesterfield
18%
Corby
14%
Daventry
9%
Derby North
19%
Derby South
27%
Derbyshire Dales
7%
Erewash
18%
Gainsborough
13%
Gedling
14%
Grantham & Stamford
12%
Harborough
8%
High Peak
11%
Kettering
13%
Leicester East
24%
Leicester South
28%
Leicester West
34%
Lincoln
19%
Loughborough
14%
Louth & Horncastle
17%
Mansfield
21%
Mid Derbyshire
8%
Newark
11%
North East Derbyshire
13%
North West Leicestershire
11%
Northampton North
20%
Northampton South
22%
Nottingham East
33%
Nottingham North
37%
Nottingham South
24%
Rushcliffe
5%
Rutland & Melton
7%
Sherwood
16%
Sleaford & North Hykeham
8%
South Derbyshire
11%
South Holland & The Deepings
12%
South Leicestershire
6%
South Northamptonshire
5%
Wellingborough
15%

Data from End Child Poverty, February 2013.



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