'Cut child poverty in five easy steps'

By Hannah Richardson
BBC News education and social affairs reporter

Image source, Getty Images

Some 700,000 children in the UK could be lifted out of poverty in five easy steps costing £8.3bn, a charity says.

The Child Poverty Action Group analysed the impact of continuing benefit cuts to children in the UK, projecting the impact of these forward to 2023.

Its report proposes a series of re-investments in universal credit and details their impact on child poverty and what it would cost to put in place.

Chancellor Philip Hammond has dismissed claims vast numbers live in poverty.

But in recent months, official figures have shown that nearly three million children are living in poverty.

'Compassionate politicians'

According to the CPAG analysis, the biggest impact on numbers of children freed from poverty - 300,000 - would be to:

  • scrap the two-child limit for benefit payments
  • axe the benefit cap

The other three measures involve reversing the impact of the benefit freeze by:

  • raising two separate child-related benefits to their real-terms value in 2015-16
  • increasing child benefit by £5 per child per week

And a combination of these three would lift 400,000 further youngsters out of poverty, the charity's analysis says.

The charity says the five changes would leave families with children better off by about £1,000 a year and cost the Treasury £8.3bn.

'Punitive policies'

Chief executive Alison Garnham said it was time for "compassionate politicians" to recommit to taking action to reduce the poverty of society's youngest.

"Children have borne the greatest burden of cuts to government spending with the four-year benefits freeze and punitive policies such as the two-child limit and benefit cuts - this is just not right," she said.

"If the government is serious that austerity is now over, it needs to demonstrate this is in a way that is felt immediately in families' pockets," she added.

A government spokesman said tackling child poverty was a "top priority".

"There are 667,000 fewer children living in workless households than in 2010 and we're spending £95bn a year to support those families who need it most," he said.

"Low earning parents have benefited from the introduction of the National Living Wage, which gave the lowest earners their fastest pay rise in 20 years.

"We've also cut taxes for 32 million people - to help families meet the everyday cost of living."

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