Work and Pensions Committee

Session 2002-03                                                        01 July 2003



"Select Committee to inquire into child poverty in the UK."

The House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee today announced an inquiry "to examine the extent of child poverty in the UK and the effectiveness of the Government's strategy to eradicate it"

The number of children in relative poverty in the UK has increased substantially over the past few decades and the latest figures show that 3.8 million children - 30% of all children - are  living in poverty (below 60% of median income after housing costs). The Government has pledged to end child poverty within 20 years; to reduce child poverty by half by 2010; and has a PSA target to reduce it by at least a quarter (to 3.1 million) by 2004. As the first stage of the child poverty target draws near, the Government believes it is on track to meet the target. Yet organisations working in the poverty field, leading children's organisations and academics are increasingly concerned that this may not be the case.

Issues which are expected to be included in the Committee's inquiry are:

  • The measurement of child poverty and the Government's annual poverty report, Opportunity For All.

  • The extent of child poverty in Britain and the causes of it.

  • The impact of child poverty on children and families - are specific groups particularly affected?

  • The extent and causes of regional variations in child poverty

  • The effectiveness of the Government's strategies to reduce child poverty and whether the child poverty targets will be met. Is enough being done across Government and are further initiatives needed?

  • Comparisons between child poverty within the UK and other countries.

The Committee hopes to hold oral evidence sessions in the autumn  and welcomes written submissions, by 11 September 2003.