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Child Poverty measure ‘ineffective’ – Policy Exchange

The current child poverty target is significantly underestimating the number of children living in poverty in the UK, a new report by Policy Exchange shows.

The target should be replaced with a metric that considers both household income and social poverty factors, such as whether children have been in care or live in poor quality housing.

Nearly one in five children (2.3 million) are living ‘materially deprived lives’ yet are not included in the Government’s headline measure of relative income poverty.

The existing measure is forcing politicians to focus on short-term income redistribution rather than trying to help support parents into employment or higher wage jobs, and fails to adjust for the difference in the cost of living across the UK.

The report recommends social poverty measures should include factors such as:

If the child is themselves a parent, the quality of housing is poor or family is living in temporary accommodation, the family is experiencing an unsustainable level of debt, the child has been taken into care in their lifetime, the child or parents have had criminal convictions, or if the child has low educational attainment.

The report states: “Even if the money were available to meet the targets set out in the Child Poverty Act, it is our belief that this would be an ineffective way of tackling the issue and would not deliver the outcomes that we all desire for children across all parts of society. In short, as well as the current targets being unrealistic, the way in which we measure child poverty is ineffective.”

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