"Bringing Families Together"

"Bringing Families Together"

Monday, May 23, 2011

Government attempts to back out of child poverty duties


By Neil Puffett Friday, 20 May 2011

The government is attempting to relinquish its duty to report annually on progress made to reduce child poverty.

Amendments to the Child Poverty Act have been tabled by government

Amendments to the Child Poverty Act have been tabled by government

The move is among a number of key amendments to the Child Poverty Act as part of the Welfare Bill’s progression through parliament that will have implications for the way child poverty is monitored.

The latest steps follow the publication of the government’s long-awaited child poverty strategy last month, which outlined plans for a social mobility and child poverty commission rather than a commission focused solely on child poverty.

In addition to making provision for a dual-role commission, the tabled amendments would result in a number of changes to the role of the commission as outlined in the original legislation.

These include:

  • Removing the requirement for the government to receive consent from the commission if it wants to change targets in relation to persistent poverty
  • Removing the requirement for the government to seek advice from the commission before publishing its annual child poverty strategy
  • Removing the requirement for the Secretary of State to pay regard to any advice given by the commission before publication
  • Likewise, the necessity for the devolved parliaments in Scotland and Northern Ireland to request, and take heed of, advice of the commission prior to publishing their strategies is also proposed to be removed
  • The government will no longer have to report annually on its progress in reducing child poverty, but make a statement instead

A briefing note on the amendments said: "We believe that the commission can have the greatest effect through being able to hold the government to account on progress towards eradicating child poverty.

"In order to do this, the current provisions relating to the commission and its powers need to be revised."

Tim Nicholls, spokesman for the Child Poverty Action Group, said he has concerns about the changes. "Although the government say they want accountability to be stronger, this may actually make it weaker," he said

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