Yesterday in a masterly act of self parody, the government put forward its Child Poverty Bill. Let me share with you its first two clauses, which set the tone:
1. It is the duty of the Secretary of State to ensure that the following targets are met in relation to the UK in relation to the target year –
a) the relative low income target
b)the combined low income and material deprivation target
c) the absolute low income target
d) the persistent poverty target
The target year is the financial year beginning with 1 April 2020
2. The relative low income target is that less than 10% of children who live in qualifying households live in households that fall within the relevant income group
For the purposes of this section, a household falls within the relevant income group …if its equivalised net income …is less than 60% of median equivalised net household income…
So here we have it. The government legislates to ensure a future government abolishes poverty, something this government has singularly failed to achieve.
If an Act of Parliament with a few targets in it can remove poverty, why didn’t Labour do it years ago? This was just another political press release masquerading as an Act.
Mr Brown hoped the Conservatives would oppose it. Then he could claim they did not care about child poverty. If they accepted it, he or his successors could use it to criticise Ministers in ten years time for failing to hit the targets.
I trust it will be much criticised in committee. Yesterday Miss Cooper was in her best answer no questions mode, turning every request we made into an anti Tory soundbite. She made it clear this is legislation as political stunt.
As the Conservatives pointed out, the issue is parent poverty. The solutions are many and complex, revolving around a back to work culture.