The Department for Education has published its child poverty strategy which aims to tackle the root causes of poverty and build on the first strategy, published in 2011.
Actions set out in the strategy include:
- Encouraging people to take up work through Jobcentre Plus and schemes such as the Work Programme and the Troubled Families Programme;
- Providing work incentives through the introduction of Universal Credit;
- Raising the minimum wage and the personal tax allowance;
- Reducing food costs for low-income families by introducing free school meals for all infant school pupils alongside Healthy Start Vouchers for young children, breakfast clubs in deprived areas, and free fruit and vegetables at school for primary school children;
- Introducing the Early Years Pupil Premium; and
- Supporting parenting classes and providing free books to poor families.
The strategy has met with criticism from children’s organisations. Alison Garnham, chief executive of Child Poverty Action Group, said the strategy “fails to set out clear actions, milestones and progress measures that would set child poverty on a downward trend”.
A report by the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission predicted the Government would fall short of its 2020 child poverty target by around 3.5 million children. The Commission, which is chaired by former Health Secretary Alan Milburn, said the draft strategy published by the Government marks a “missed opportunity”. The group urged politicians to work together to address the issue, but the Minister said they remained committed to ending child poverty by 2020.