Child Poverty Cut, Report Reveals

The number of children in the eastern region living in poverty fell between 1998 and 2005, a report has revealed. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) found that in 2004/2005, 22% of children in the East of England lived in families on low incomes. This compares to the 26% of children in low income families in 1998/1999.

The JRF said although all political parties agree in principle about the need to reduce child poverty, more needs to be done.

A JRF spokesman said the government had made a start in reducing child poverty, but had missed its official target of reducing child poverty by a quarter between 1998/1999 and 2004/2005.

The report suggested that, if current policies continue unchanged, the government’s earlier target of reducing child poverty by a quarter (by 2004/2005) might not be met until 2020.

It also found that in the Nelson ward of Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, 50% of children live in families with low incomes and the figure is 48.3% in the Rush Green ward of Tendring District Council, Essex.

Donald Hirsch, report author, said: “Our findings show that the bold ambition of ending child poverty is achievable, but a strong commitment needs to be sustained for a long period.

“These targets cannot be met through benefits alone. Families must be helped to improve their market earnings, at the same time as getting extra assistance if their incomes fall short. While the cost of ending child poverty is high, the cost of not succeeding is even greater and costs are escalating from one generation to the next.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “We know in order to meet our future child poverty targets there is much more to do. That is why we have said we are redoubling our efforts and examining our child poverty strategy in order that we can build on the progress we have made so far.”