News | Published November 26 2019

Main parties’ plans will not reduce child poverty overall, report says

A report from the Resolution Foundation has indicated that plans outlined in the three main party manifestos would all fall short on reducing the rate of child poverty by 2023-24.

The think tank cast doubt on the likelihood of any of the major parties reducing the current child poverty rate of 29.6 per cent, while adding that the Conservatives’ plans could see the rate rise to 34 per cent over the next four years, given their plans to persist with existing benefit policy.

The foundation defines relative child poverty as children living in households with incomes under 60 per cent of the median over the course of the year, which was £304 per week in 2017-18 according to figures from the Department for Work and Pensions.

The report, published on Tuesday, says: “It is notable that both the Labour and Liberal Democrat approaches could be expected to halt potential increases in relative child poverty over the next Parliament.

"We forecast that under current policy plans (ie the Conservative package) child poverty will rise from 29.6 per cent in 2017-18 to 34.4 per cent in 2023-24.”

Addressing Labour’s plans, the report says: "Under Labour's plans, which include around £9 billion of extra social security spending, the foundation forecast there would be some 550,000 fewer children in poverty compared to Conservative plans."

However, it went on to say that the child poverty rate would still be on a par with the current rate.

It reads: “Labour's plans would see child poverty remain roughly the same, with a rate of around 30.2 per cent in 2023-4.”

Under the Liberal Democrats, the report predicts that the rate of child poverty by 2023-24 would have marginally risen to 29.7 per cent.

Laura Gardiner from the Resolution Foundation said: "Policy choices since 2010 have reduced the generosity of support for working age families by £34 billion. Against the backdrop of major cuts, the parties' manifestos do offer big choices on social security."

In response to the report, Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: "Our reforms to social security, including scrapping Universal Credit, the Two-Child Limit and the Benefit Cap, will stop child poverty increasing, as this report rightly acknowledges.”

Meanwhile, the Conservatives have hit back at the findings, with a party spokesperson saying that hundreds of thousands of children have come out of poverty since 2010.

Speaking to the Guardian, the spokesperson said: “We are committed to tackling child poverty and have made progress since we came into government, with 730,000 fewer children in workless households.

“We know we must continue to make every effort on this issue and our manifesto sets out how we will use the tax and benefits system to do this. The prime minister has committed to giving every child in the country the opportunities to make the most of their talents."

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Authored by

Scott Challinor
Business Editor
November 26 2019

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