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UK’s struggle to tackle child poverty

April 6, 2011


For all the work that we do on child poverty in developing countries, there is still a lot be done in the ‘Western world’ as well. The UK in particular has been struggling for years to act upon its pledge to reduce child poverty, the latter of which has been formalized in the Child Poverty Act in 2010. The Act puts forward different targets in a bid to eradicate child poverty by 2020. One of the Act’s requirements is a strategy every three years that sets out the way forward in achieving those targets. Although Nick Clegg yesterday announced the establishment of a child poverty and social mobility commission, the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) is considering to launch a judicial review as it beliefs that the government fails to meet statutory requirements. The Child Poverty Act stipulates that strategy was to published by the 25th March and there is none as of yet.

The UK’s struggles to tackle child poverty are not new. Already in 2007, an overview of child well-being in rich countries that was published by UNICEF revealed that the UK ranks last. The 2009 version of UNICEF’s report card focused on issues of inequality and pointed towards an equally gloomy picture with considerable inequality in terms of material, educational and health outcomes. The strong debates that such reports have instigated are encouraging and have had major impact on rhetorics around policy-making. Considerable momentum was gained, especially after UNICEF’s 2007 report, and one is now left to wonder whether this momentum has come and gone. CAPG certainly seems concerned that the Child Poverty Act has become an empty shell and document of good intentions rather than a pledge to move things forward. And although Clegg was firm to deny such concerns yesterday, it remains to be seen what the coalition government can really mean for UK’s children. 

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