The consultation builds on the work of two Labour MPs – Frank Field’s independent review on poverty and life chances, published earlier this month, and the review on early intervention by Graham Allen (pictured), which is due to report in January.
Views are being sought on how recommendations in these two reviews can be incorporated into the child poverty strategy.
Launching the consultation, children’s minister Sarah Teather said it was ‘a scandal’ that 2.8 million children were living in poverty in the UK.
‘The best way to eradicate child poverty is to address the causes of poverty, rather than only treat the symptoms. Frank Field’s independent report on poverty and life chances is a welcome reminder of how important early years childcare and education is to setting a child on the road to success and out of poverty, ' she said.
‘That’s why we are reforming Sure Start services to target the most needy and are extending the offer of 15 hours of free childcare a week to all disadvantaged two-year-olds. And through the pupil premium we shall be able to support the poorest at every stage of education.'
Under the Child Poverty Act 2010, the Government is required to publish a strategy showing how it plans to meet four income-based UK-wide targets to reduce child poverty by 2020 and setting out how it will tackle socio-economic disadvantage.
The consultation says that a new approach is needed that focuses on the multi-dimensional causes of poverty.
Increasing family income, it says, is not enough on its own to make a big difference to children's life chances. Other factors such as home learning environment, parent-child relationships, early years education, health, and support and advice on training and work are all factors that impact on children's development and opportunities.
The document argues that ‘an over-reliance on short-term measures, such as cash transfers, has contributed to trapping some of the poorest families in welfare dependency’.
It calls for a broader approach ‘to tackle the underlying causes of inter-generational disadvantage’ and ingrained patterns of worklessness, family breakdown and educational under-achievement.
Ministers said they would be considering the findings of the report by Frank Field (pictured right) in detail and will be publishing a response to it in the spring.
Graham Allen’s review on early intervention will publish an interim report early in the new year, to enable views on its findings to be included in responses to the consultation on child poverty, which closes on 15 February.
The final child poverty strategy is to be published in March.