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
    +7

    Comment number 70.

    @67 Bauer

    Well that's the crux isn't it. It's not anywhere near as simple as you imply or state. A few contributing factors that leap to my mind are: poor education, lack of employment, wage systems that benefit the few to the cost of the many, the erosion of industry and British businesses, and lastly a political system that has to appeal to popular nonsense.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 69.

    #53. kiljoy76
    "...so many communists on here, you'd have thought people would have been lining up to go and live in North Korea..."

    And if such comments are repeated often enough people begin to believe it and fear it.
    Then we end up with a right wing neo-fascist state that uses fear of "threats to national security" to implement Orwellian people control measures to keep people down.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 68.

    49.
    Good Egg
    7 Minutes ago

    'Poverty' is a relative and artificial construct.

    -----------------------

    Then, according to that logic, affluence is also a relative and artificial construct.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 67.

    You assume too much, and imply that it's the fault of the poor that they're poor.

    Who's fault is it then?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 66.

    @ 50. fuzzy

    "A simple counter example is if everyone earned the same"

    That is literally the only way to have everyone at the median level, and it's called communism. I do wonder if anyone has ever tried this system before, and if so, how successful it was at eliminating poverty?

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 65.

    Jobs has to be the answer.
    Keeping people working beyond 65, not having an age cap on public office type jobs (MPs, judges, etc), and not prosecuting employers who exploit foreign workers, all contributes to our young being unemployed.
    Unemployment breeds poverty, tsk simple.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 64.

    58 Complete drivel. They have stopped the gravy train and are at last slashing the huge outpouring of people's money that was been funnelled by the last government to the lazy, the workshy, the baby factories and into the crumbling socialist monoliths: the NHS, the BBC, the schools that churn out more "benefit" claimants ready to tick the box next to Labour and continue the endless cycle.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 63.

    Poverty levels are of no interest to this government. Their priority is electoral boundary fixing.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 62.

    When no child in this country dies of starvation, lives in cardboard boxes on the street, wanders the streets dressed only in rags or cannot attend school though inability to afford it or requirement to work fulltime to support the family , then we shall have eradicated child poverty.
    Job is already done - things can always be improved, but society has already done its part.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 61.

    No end to child poverty, no hope of a living wage. I think a benefit culture saps morale & morals so I'm no fan but I do object to tax breaks for the very wealthy, cynical tax avoidance schemes plus all of the other stratagems & ruses at the disposal of the elite. Whilst we have a government headed by active supporters & members of that elite group there'll be no semblance fair, equitable society.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 60.

    We live in a first world country, where those who do not have the means to support themselves are looked after by those do, where the sick, disabled and terminal are looked after and provided with medical interventions and medication for which they do not have to pay for at the point of access or delivery. Therefore, can we please stop referring to child poverty in this country

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 59.

    "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."
    _____________
    Just something else gridlocked by the political inertia of a bi-party system, then. Depressing

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 58.

    There are 2.6mill unemployed, 1m young without jobs, a housing crisis, a breakdown of civil society, a double dip recession. But this government are too busy being greedy, looking after their own self interest and keeping power.

    They are not interested in the poor and don't care about the ordinary people. In other words, they don't care about Britain and its people.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 57.

    "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 ......The reduction was due to a drop in median household incomes"

    Fatuous isn't it. An 'industry' created to eradicate poverty whose measure is a statistical fluke. Have a recession, people earn a bit less, so poverty reduces. La la land.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 56.

    The only way this target could have ever been met would have been to increase child benefit to ridiculous levels, thus encouraging those least suitable to have children.

    The only reason for children living in poverty in the UK is irresponsible parents.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 55.

    @ 44 Bauer

    The last time I checked the style and type of clothing one wore bore no relation to one's character: Bob Diamond wears a suit after all.

    Nor does one's upbringing affect the ability to empathise with the condition of others -- as demonstrated by your post.

    You assume too much, and imply that it's the fault of the poor that they're poor.

  • Comment number 54.

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

  • rate this
    -6

    Comment number 53.

    Bloody hell, so many communists on here, you'd have thought people would have been lining up to go and live in North Korea...

  • rate this
    -7

    Comment number 52.

    There is no "poverty" in the UK: like "vulnerable" and "community" hijack by the left wing as a tool to take more personal, hard earned wealth from normal people and use it to subdugate personal freedom through benefit addiction. The BBC takes usual approach: a HYS, invite some sheep to moan about "the rich" . Not one HYS on unfair demands union bribes to do their jobs during Olympics I note.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 51.

    Surely the best way out of poverty is to create real jobs,because most of those without jobs would like one,it would help this cause immensely if the Government was to invest in industry and infrastructure instead of pumping billions into dodgy banks all the time.

 

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