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Statement on tackling Child Poverty in 2008 budget

To reach targets government must address key contributor to child poverty: parental separation.

Statement from Anastasia de Waal, Head of Family and Education, Civitas, the independent social policy think tank:

“Poverty is the single greatest threat to children’s life chances. The Chancellor’s focus on eradicating child poverty is therefore critical. However in its rush to reach the 2010 target, the government is pushing short-term policies at the expense of addressing the roots of child poverty.

If the government is truly committed to eradicating child poverty it must also address the root causes. Poverty is currently concentrated in single-parent families. Whilst the government has sought to alleviate single-parent household poverty it is ignoring the circumstances generating entry into single parenthood. Parental separation is disproportionately concentrated amongst poor parents: the less well-off are much more likely to separate. Therefore to successfully tackle child poverty, the sources of poverty in two-parent families must also be tackled. This means:

  • A policy focus on those men and women who are most likely to set out parenting on low or no earned-income is imperative. The most effective strategy would be to impact on the number of young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs) – which has risen by 15 per cent under New Labour. This necessitates:
    • educational provision with greater relevance to employment, particularly in relation to vocational education;
    • the restructuring of unemployment entitlements to minimise the possibility of stagnant welfare dependency.
  • The government must re-dress existing tax and welfare arrangements whereby low-income couple-parents are treated less favourably than single-parents. The effect of the current system is to further undermine the stability of low-income two-parent families. This compounds the risk of parental separation, thereby incurring a greater likelihood of single-parent poverty.”


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