Murphy Welcomes New Focus on Tackling Child Poverty

The appointment of a new independent adviser to the Department for Work and Pensions on child poverty was announced today by Minister for Welfare Reform Jim Murphy. Speaking at a visit to Rokeby Boys’ School in East London, he said that Lisa Harker would be working closely with the DWP reviewing the department’s policies and to help progress towards the ambitious target of eradicating child poverty by 2020.

Jim Murphy said: “Tackling child poverty is our top priority and we have made a real impact lifting 800,000 children out of poverty. We previously had the highest levels of child poverty of any major European country. Now more children are being lifted out of poverty here than in any of these nations. But if we are to meet our ambitious targets we need to bring some fresh thinking into play and additional ideas to support more families out of poverty.

 “We need to forge stronger links between the reformed welfare state and our policies aimed at tackling poverty so that we are better placed to assist people get back into work and out of the poverty trap. The forthcoming Welfare Reform Bill is an important part of that. We have asked Lisa to review DWP policies and agencies to consider what more we can do.

“Lisa has a wealth of experience and unrivalled expertise and I want her to use that to look at the work we have done so far and to consider what more we can do in advance of the publication of our new strategy later in the year.”

Lisa Harker said: “I am delighted to take up this appointment. Despite recent progress, several million children are growing up in poverty in the UK. I look forward to playing my part in bringing forward ideas that will strengthen efforts to tackle child poverty.”

Mr Murphy also announced he was convening an advisory panel of academics and stakeholders to complement the work that Ms Harker will be carrying out. This group includes Kate Green, Colette Marshall, Paul Gregg, Jonathan Bradshaw and Carey Oppenheim.

These announcements come at the end of a series of visits around the country where Mr Murphy saw and heard first hand the kind of innovative projects which are making a real difference to people’s lives.

He added:“Poverty still remains a blight on the lives of too many of our children. And whilst I am hugely proud of our record so far I believe we have to go further and faster. “ If we are going to make this work we have to ensure that there is enough flexibility and personalisation in the system so people are treated as individuals. The advisory board will ensure that the voluntary and private sectors will be able to input into how policy is made and help us deliver it on the ground.
“ I have seen first hand the difference that people who have spent their whole lives working to eradicate child poverty at the sharp end in their local communities can make. I want them to bring their knowledge and expertise to the table and be heavily involved in our ambitious agenda.”