The UK Government’s new vanishing act won’t make child poverty disappear

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The End Child Poverty coalition is urging the House of Lords to reject the Government’s plans to scrap legally binding commitments to report and respond to the number of children living in poverty.
The Welfare Reform and Work Bill, due to be debated in the House of Lords on 25th January, would remove both the statutory target to eradicate child poverty by 2020, and the commitment to report and respond to the proportion of children living in poverty. Instead, the Government wants to define need on the basis of school performance and whether parents are in work.

Evidence shows that 64 per cent (2.4 million) of the 3.7 million children living in poverty are in working households. [1] That means that the Government, by proposing to focus on worklessness, risks ignoring millions of children who live in deprivation but whose parents are working.

Sam Royston, Chair of the End Child Poverty Coalition and Policy Director at The Children’s Society, said:
“By seeking to abandon commitments to report on and tackle the number of children living in families on low incomes the Government seems to think it can make child poverty magically disappear. Scrapping the Child Poverty Act and replacing it with inadequate measures based on worklessness and low educational attainment will do nothing to help the millions of children who are suffering in real poverty now. Income is at the heart of child poverty.
“In 2010 all the main political parties committed to measure and report on the number of children living in poverty and to eradicate it by 2020. The Government must keep this promise.”

New analysis by the End Child Poverty coalition also shows an estimated 5.8m children are living in families that cannot make savings of even £10 a month, while parents of 300,000 children cannot afford to buy them a warm winter coat. Some 1.7m children are living in families who struggle to keep their house warm and 1.6m live in families who are failing to keep up with their bills.[2]

Lorna Sculley – a single mum of 3 boys, who works as a School Kitchen Assistant, said:
“I should have been able to afford it, as a working mum, but I couldn’t afford to put food on the table. Parents like myself can’t provide the very basics for their children and are forced to make impossible choices like whether to heat their homes or put food on the table. I know first-hand how this affects our children’s chances in life, their health and education. Every child should live in a family that is able to afford the basic essentials.”


Media Enquiries
For further information and to interview Sam Royston or Lorna Sculley please contact Anna Tsirmpa at the Action for Children Press Office on 0203 124 0662 (mobile: 07725 601 441 / out of hours: 07802 806 679) or email

[1]According to Households Below Average Income figures, there were 3.7 million children living in poverty in the UK in 2013-14. That’s 28 per cent of children. 64% of those children living in poverty are in working households. See ECP website for more information

[2] See ECP Report Stage Briefing for more information

Notes to editors

The Child Poverty Act 2010 set targets to end child poverty in the UK by 2020 and requirements on Government and local authorities to publish data and strategies on child poverty. The Welfare Reform and Work Bill would remove the child poverty targets and also the requirement on Government to publish data on the four child poverty measures (relative low income, combined low income and material deprivation, absolute low income, and persistent poverty). Instead, the Government proposes to measure educational attainment at Key Stage 4 and worklessness.

The Campaign to End Child Poverty ( is made up of more than 100 organisations from civic society including children’s charities, child welfare organisations, social justice groups, faith groups, trade unions and others, united in our vision of a UK free of child poverty. These include Action for Children, Child Poverty Action Group, The Children’s Society, Family Action, Barnardo’s, Gingerbread, Oxfam, TUC, Family and Childcare Trust, Save the Children, and the National Children’s Bureau. End Child Poverty campaigns to achieve our vision by: Ensuring the voices of families facing economic disadvantage are heard; Increasing understanding of the causes and impacts of child poverty and mobilising public support and action; Promoting to politicians and government the case for ending child poverty by 2020, the actions that will achieve it and holding them to account on the requirements of the Child Poverty Act.

You can get in touch with the coalition by emailing

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