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Child poverty: little to celebrate in Salvation Army's State of the Nation report

The Salvation Army's State of the Nation report shows there has been little progress on child poverty and that the situation is worsening for the most vulnerable children.

Child Poverty Action Group says there is not much to celebrate in the Salvation Army's 8th State of the Nation report released yesterday.

CPAG welcomed publication of the report "A Mountain All Can Climb" yesterday, and supports the Salvation Army's call for a public debate on the balance between social goals and economic concerns.

The report shows there has been little progress on child poverty and that the situation is worsening for the most vulnerable children.

Social security spokesperson Michael O'Brien says, "The Salvation Army's report shows, whatever measures are used, large numbers of children are experiencing poverty which could be alleviated swiftly by better policies. Little has been done to fix the structural causes of child poverty in the past six years. While the improved economy has reduced pressures on some people, another downturn would see the same pressures come back. A genuine safety net is needed to protect families and children during difficult times, with a well-designed welfare and family tax credit system. This will require considerable sustained extra spending, and genuine commitment from the Government to fix the underlying causes and long term effects of child poverty."

CPAG says the current housing crisis is a major concern and shows a failure to take children's needs into account. "Families need warm, dry, affordable housing to keep children healthy and give them the stability they need to achieve at school. Successive governments have had ten years to get to grips with housing and have failed to develop a coherent policy which balances the needs of families and children with those of investors and developers."

The State of the Nation report also warns that a lack of consistent measures is muddying the picture on child poverty. CPAG shares the Salvation Army's concern and says the absence of clear and transparent data makes it difficult to assess policies designed to address child poverty.

An example of this is welfare reform to reduce the number of children in families on welfare benefits. Michael O'Brien says, "A fall in the number of families on welfare is not a reason to celebrate on its own without clear evidence that the children are better off because of it. A significant number of families experiencing poverty are in paid work (40%) so a reduction in the numbers on welfare may not mean any decrease in poverty. "