Ministers lack clear plans to tackle growing child poverty, while a lack of focus and leadership has hampered efforts to reduce the number of troubled young people, a group of multi-party MPs said.
The House of Commons Select Committee on Work and Pensions said ministers must develop a new inter-ministerial poverty reduction strategy inspired by No.10 and supported by new and solid evidence of the scale of the problem.
“At the moment, the government has no strategy and no measurable goal against which it can be held accountable,” said committee chair Stephen Timms. “How can she hope to reduce child poverty when she doesn’t have a plan?
He added: “If a generation of young people facing poorer school performance and chronic health problems is to be lifted out of poverty, there must be clear leadership and a top-led strategy to ensure that every part of government is focused on tackling the problems they face.
The latest figures, from 2019-2020, estimate that around 14.5 million people in the UK are in relative poverty after housing costs (22%), of which around 4.3 million are children (31% ). The pandemic is expected to see this increase, while some estimates suggest that removing the £ 20 increase in universal credit will push at least 500,000 below the poverty line.
The committee noted that the government had not had a UK-wide child poverty strategy since 2017, leaving England the only one of the four UK countries not to have one. He urged ministers to commit to an intergovernmental strategy to reduce child poverty, setting clear and measurable targets using the most recent data.
“We have heard strong opinions that the lack of a strategy has left the government without a clear focus on tackling child poverty, with ministries working in silos and a lack of clear leadership,” the report said. of the committee.
He also criticized the inability of the Department of Work and Pensions to produce up-to-date statistics on the impact of the pandemic on child poverty, saying this was “surprising” given its ministerial responsibilities on poverty. .
Labor has pledged to establish a new child poverty reduction unit inside No 10, saying it will make plans to implement an intergovernmental strategy to reverse the increase in the number of children. children living in poverty since 2010.
The Executive Director of the Child Poverty Action Group, Alison Garnham, said: “The committee is right to insist on an interministerial plan of poverty reduction with clear objectives and defended from number 10. Without this concentration and this commitment, increasing poverty will prove to be a ticking time bomb. for children and for our prosperity at large.
A government spokesperson said: “We know that children in households where every adult works are much less likely to live in poverty. That’s why our multi-billion pound job creation plan is helping people across the country improve their skills and advance in their professional lives.