Poverty target will not be met by 2020, says Milburn

 
Children playing by boarded-up houses Families are currently considered to be in poverty if they are on less than 60% of the median income

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The UK has no chance of meeting its target of ending child poverty by 2020, the government's adviser on social mobility has said.

Ex-minister Alan Milburn said officials must "come clean" and admit the aspiration, first adopted by the Labour government, would not be realised.

He told MPs that £19bn would have to be spent to achieve the goal.

The UK failed to meet a target to halve child poverty by 2010 although numbers have fallen to a near 30-year low.

The government defines child poverty as children living in homes taking in less than 60% of the median UK income.

The 2020 target of eradicating child poverty was agreed by the Labour government in 1999 and enshrined into law in 2010. It was accepted by the coalition when it took power.

But Mr Milburn, who was health secretary under Tony Blair, told the Commons education committee that current trends indicated that the earliest that this could be achieved would be 2027.

'Moment for honesty'

To do so seven years earlier would require the biggest redistribution of income in history, he told MPs.

"The only way we're going to hit the 2020 target is if one or other political party commits to what I don't think any of them are going to do.

Start Quote

I don't believe, frankly, that there is a snowball's chance in hell that we will hit the 2020 target”

End Quote Alan Milburn

"I think there is a moment for honesty here. I think it is time for all the political parties to either put up or shut up.

"I don't believe, frankly, that there is a snowball's chance in hell that we will hit the 2020 target. I think that's very widely privately acknowledged and I think it should be publicly acknowledged too. It is time to come clean about this stuff."

The number of children living in poverty fell by 300,000 to 2.3 million in 2010-11, which campaigners said was the lowest level since the mid-1980s although 600,000 below the amount required to meet the 2010 objective.

The reduction was due to a drop in median household incomes - since the poverty measure is based on median incomes. The median - the middle figure in a set of numbers - for 2010-2011 was £419 a week, down from £432 the year before.

'Deep poverty'

Mr Milburn, who has been advising deputy prime minister Nick Clegg on social mobility, has been nominated by the government to be the first chairman of the new Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission.

Despite the best intentions of ministers, he said the weak state of the economy and cuts to public expenditure meant it was not an "auspicious time" to try to accelerate progress on child poverty.

The government, he added, should focus on helping the 800,000 children under five living in "deep poverty" by increasing investment in early years education.

Ministers say poverty should not be calculated purely in terms of income and that problems such as unemployment, family breakdown and addiction should be taken into account.

Speaking last month, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said Labour's strategy of spending money on benefits to try to push families above the poverty line had failed.

He said the government's consolidated universal credit - which will replace a series of benefits and tax credits - would pull the "vast majority" of young people out of poverty if at least one parent worked 35 hours a week at the minimum wage.

 

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 270.

    266.Billythefirst

    "Oh, I don't confine my help to the poor.I help the tired and weary"

    clicked on link... laughed so hard!

    And that I think sums up UK... baby boomers sold UK and retire offshore leaving new generation to pay off the promises baby boomers made...

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 269.

    "266 - I help the tired and weary"

    You're probably surprised at the number of people you talk to who seem tired and weary.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 268.

    263.Fred1955
    I think you will find it was Gordon Brown who started the practice of supporting failing financial institutions. Northern Rock was first then there RBS and Fred the Shred, he let him get away lightly as well. He didnt do much in the way of changing tax rules to reduce avoidance either.

    Labor or Tory, there's no real difference.

    No such thing as an honest politician.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 267.

    This policy is treating the unacceptable symptoms of a fundamental problem. Child poverty is due to lack of jobs.
    Take a drive around the disadvantaged areas of the UK and ask why can we indulge in Wimbledon, cricket, olympics etc. when there is such suffering? Historically, no one cared about the injustices in Northern Ireland. Now no one cares about the deprived areas. Wake up Westminster.

  • Comment number 266.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 265.

    261.Parallel World

    "What do you do that couldn't be done by a dumb machine?"

    Without going into detail - Sales.

    Which is people skills... which dumb machines don't have.

    And working in sales "not sure I call self service making it easier, just more profitable." ...but the truth is, some people just want "x" product cheap whilst others want "x" product + good service. The later costs more.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 264.

    I would like to comment. Unfortunately I have to put some coal on the fire and ready the tin bath for the weekly wash.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 263.

    Why should we be surprised when this government has done everything it can to increase the tax burden, cap the pay on the lowest earners yet support the tory bankers with massive tax cuts and tax avoidance schemes.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 262.

    #248
    But don't you dare tell me that it's my fault and I should pay more taxes.
    ---------
    Wouldn't dream of it unless your one of those amoral scamsters that doesn't pay your fair share.

    PS: It's not your fault that people without the ability to succeed resort to claiming benefits when there are no jobs and even if there were accommodation would still have to be tax payer subsidised.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 261.

    "257. Joe
    and that's the way it should be... technology making life easier for us.
    We really can't go down the route of putting some poor sap in front on a check out till just to give them something "productive" to do!"
    ______
    Well Joe - not sure I call self service making it easier, just more profitable. What do you do that couldn't be done by a dumb machine?
    (Just curious)

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 260.

    237. angry_of_garston

    Fact is that the government has set a benchmark level for poverty to eradicate and are failing to meet it

    --

    Fact is that poverty was eradicated in the mid twentieth century with the introduction of the welfare state.

    What they are measuring now is income inequality.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 259.

    254 - All those things you "know" Billy.

    I'd have thought you could put all that knowledge to something more practical and worthwhile than endless dreary posts on here.

    I mean, really, what have you done in posting on here that helps the poor?

  • Comment number 258.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 257.

    251.Parallel World

    "Visiting the supermarket today, I see one 'human till' open and everyone else being shuffled through the self service checkouts.
    Same in B&Q the other day."

    and that's the way it should be... technology making life easier for us.

    We really can't go down the route of putting some poor sap in front on a check out till just to give them something "productive" to do!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 256.

    "244. Trina
    Government is ageist."
    ___________
    Correct. This is why you never see statistics on unemployment for the over 50s, and there are no unemployment figures at all for those over retirement age who need or want to work.
    No votes in it, I'd guess....

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 255.

    Money doesn't resolve bad parenting. I was just lucky, and even my feeble brain enabled me to train in medicine that I am thankful for. My two went through state school, and I pushed them constantly.

    They both are successful professionals - one in higher education and one in medicine. They, like me, have lifelong friends from ALL occupations/backgrounds that they grew up with.

  • Comment number 254.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 253.

    MR.TRUCULENT SAYS!
    There is one simple way to speed up the end of Child poverty in the UK and this is to cut child benifit to only 2 children and no means testing as this causes paper work & bureaucracy. Also No child benifit should be paid to single mothers until they have paid at least 2 years National Insurance.This would reduce teanage pregnancies as well. A good start MR.TRUCULENT says
    E&OE

  • Comment number 252.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 251.

    Visiting the supermarket today, I see one 'human till' open and everyone else being shuffled through the self service checkouts.
    Same in B&Q the other day.

    I can see increased profits for the shareholders, but I'm wondering where these full-time, 35 hour, poverty-relieving jobs are going to come from.

 

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