House of Lords votes against scrapping income-related child poverty targets

Peers have thrown out the Government’s move to stop using family income as a way of measuring child poverty.

Work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith had wanted to scrap child poverty targets that use annual data based on the percentage of households below-average income as a measurement for child poverty.

Ministers believe that ‘life chances’ indicators such as long-term unemployment are more important than income measures.

The Government’s reforms to the 2010 Child Poverty Act, which is to be renamed the Life Chances Act, have passed in the House of Commons.

But on Monday night the House of Lords, led by the Bishop of Durham, Rt Rev Paul Butler, voted down measures in the welfare reform and work bill to scrap the statutory duty to measure and report on income-based poverty and the aim of ending child poverty by 2020.

The Government had wanted to replace it with only a duty to report on the number of workless households and children’s attainment at GCSE.

Peers voted 290 to 198 to keep the targets.

Anti-poverty campaigners welcomed the move.

The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) chief executive Alison Garnham said the vote showed ‘how much of a mess the Government has got itself into on poverty.  

‘It’s needed the House of Lords to act and insist that, yes, the Government should continue to report to parliament on what’s happening to child poverty and, yes, that when you talk about poverty and life chances, you cannot simply ignore income.  The Lords is on the side of the experts and the public here.

‘MPs now have a chance to demonstrate their commitment to tackling child poverty by holding on to the Lords amendment when the Bill comes back to them.’

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