Child poverty promise and Child Poverty Act

In 2010, the Child Poverty Act was passed with cross-party support. It enshrined in law Tony Blair’s 2001 pledge to end child poverty by 2020.

In 2016, the Welfare Reform and Work Act abolished the Child Poverty Act, including the targets to reduce poverty and the measure of poverty based on family income. However, after a prolonged campaign, the government agreed to commit in law to regularly publishing data on the number of children in poverty.

Read more about All Kids Count, CPAG’s campaign to keep real measures of child poverty.

Child Poverty Act targets 

The Act imposed a legal duty on governments to move towards four UK-wide targets by 2020 as follows:

  •          Relative poverty – for less than 10% of children to live in relative low income families. For the purposes of this target, low income is defined as an equivalised net income below 60% of the UK median.
  •          Combined low income and material deprivation – for less than 5% of children to live in material deprivation and low income families. For the purposes of this target, low income is defined as an equivalised net income below 70% of the UK median.
  •          Absolute poverty – for less than 5% of children to live in absolute low income families. For the purposes of this target, absolute low income is defined as an equivalised net income below 60% of an adjusted base amount, with the base year being 2010/11.  
  •          Persistent poverty – for fewer children to live in relative poverty for long periods of time, with the specific target to be set at a later date. For the purposes of this target, a long period is defined as three years or more.

Under the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016, the government is required only to report to parliament on the number of children living in workless households, and educational outcomes at GCSE level.

Child Poverty strategy

The Act also required the Government to produce a Child Poverty Strategy within a year. However, the strategy was delayed beyond this timeframe and has suffered from various shortcomings. Read CPAG’s response to the strategy here.

Under the Welfare Reform and Work Act, the Government is not required to produce a child poverty strategy. However, under David Cameron, the Government indicated that it would produce a life chances strategy. Read more about CPAG’s approach to life chances here.

Child Poverty Commission

The Act sought to establish a Child Poverty Commission tasked with providing expert advice to the Government. The Coalition Government amended the Child Poverty Act to establish a Social Mobility & Child Poverty Commission in 2012, chaired by Alan Milburn. Under the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016, the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission has become the Social Mobility Commission.