Iain Duncan Smith: Child poverty approach 'set to fail'

Iain Duncan Smith has said tackling child poverty by boosting family income through benefits is a narrow approach which "looks set to have failed".

The Work and Pensions Secretary said there were problems with officially classifying child poverty as a family on 60% or less than the median income.

It created perverse incentives to lift people just over the mark, he said.

Official figures published on Tuesday suggest child poverty is set to swell by 100,000 over the next few years.

The previous Labour government introduced a Child Poverty Act, creating a legally binding requirement for the government to end child poverty by 2020.

Official figures suggest 2.8m children are living in poverty.

For further information visit the BBC News website.

Comments

Just one thing springs to mind. Who's going to make sure the parents spend their money on their kids? It's all very well increasing income but alot of the issues arise from people who can't or won't budget and spend their cash on, for example, fags and booze rather than proper food etc for their kids.
Don't know the answer, it's an age old problem :(

Katiebb

You mean: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beer_Street_and_Gin_Lane

You can't ensure that parents spend the money on their kids. That level of conditionality means the parents become institutionalised (ass happened in nineteenth century workhouses).

Actually, while there's always the odd horror story, most of the evidence is the other way - much more positive. Addiction is the major cause of the horror stories (drugs, booze, fags, in whichever order you prefer).

Is this IDS setting the stage for a change to the definition of poverty just so the government won't have to arrest itself for breaking the law in 2020?

Katiebbb's comments link closely with the issue of welfare quarantining in Australia which is an interesting issue: http://indusdelta.co.uk/debate/welfare_quarantining_safeguarding_childre...

And some parents need to be institutionalised but we're too scared to deal with it! There are lots of parents who shouldn't be parents. But they have the right to be, so society has to deal with the consequences. There may be few real horror stories, but the disturbing and unsettling soap operas that occur every day in millions of households cause untold damage to the children involved, the generations that follow and society as a whole. Unfit parents aren't the sole preserve of families on low incomes, far from it. But where there are problems we seem unable to develop effective ways to address them for fear of upsetting the vocal minority or stepping on the toes of human rights.

Are more children falling into poverty because the median income is increasing and the social divide between rich and poor is widening? I don't know, but if that is the case you can hardly resolve it by giving more money to low income households. How can we justify or sustain that?

The media's view of children in poverty is often an NSPCC advert - hungry, dirty, in a house with nothing, and abused. But that's a whole different ball game and can't be solved by raising income. Money doesn't create fit parents, it doesn't promote intelligence or responsibility, and it doesn't address issues about our self-absorbed, media driven, consumerist society which is already way out of control.

Sadly in our politically correct world full of rights here there and everywhere, you can't actually have an honest and frank discussion about these issues, so that's all I'll say on the issue and put my soap box away.

If you accept a 'squeezed middle', then squeezing the middle relative to the top would have no necessary link to what happens between the middle and the bottom of the income scale. People think that bankers' bonuses affect the poverty measure. They don't, and neither does any other change affecting the top half of the income scale.

If you squeeze the middle far enough you could reduce measured poverty. Because the middle has been squeezed enough so that 60% of the middle is then below the lowest benefit levels. Then you get into arguments about net and gross income, whether housing is included or not and so on.

There's no such thing as child poverty in this country, only mis-spent benefits.