Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Government accused on child poverty

from the Guardian

Press Association

The Government's commitment to halving child poverty by 2010 appears in doubt because it has failed to explain what is doing to meet the target, MPs have said.

A Treasury select committee report said it was worried "that the Government may have drawn back from a whole-hearted commitment to meeting this target".

And it warned any backtracking would represent a "conscious decision to leave hundreds of thousands of children in poverty for longer than is necessary or desirable".

The committee said the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review - setting out long-term budgeting - did not explain how the 2010 mark would be met. It conceded that there were potential "trade-offs" between the short-term target and increasing employment to meet a longer-term aim of eradicating child poverty entirely by 2020.

But it demanded the Treasury either open a public debate about that or "rededicate itself to meeting the 2010-11 target".

Labour MP John McFall, who chairs the committee, said: "The 2010 child poverty pledge should not be seen as an optional extra in the Government's programme for the remainder of this Parliament. The simple consequence of failing to meet it is that many children will continue to live in households in poverty for too long.

"The Government must do more to make clear how it is to meet its target to halve child poverty by 2010, or face growing concerns that its commitment to the target is being watered down.

"The 2020 target to eliminate child poverty remains of paramount importance, but the Comprehensive Spending Review does not help us in understanding how the Government is seeking to reconcile any tension between the 2010 and 2020 targets."

The report criticised the fact that responsibility for meeting the 2010 and 2020 targets had been given to different Whitehall departments.

No comments: