Sunday, 29 June 2008

Child poverty increases for second year running

Last week it was announced that child poverty increased by 100,000 in the last year. In the past two years, according to the Government's own figures, child poverty has increased by 300,000. When Labour came to power it promised to "end child poverty within a generation" – by 2020 - and to halve it by 2010.

After 11 years of New Labour, there are still 3.9 million children living in poverty. The Government is still to succeed in making a one-quarter cut in child poverty, which it had aimed to do by 2005. Three years on and things are going into reverse.

The LEAP Red Papers of March 2008 contain a feature on child poverty (page 16) written in advance of the latest release of figures.

It shows how just by increasing child benefit by £14 per week for the eldest child, child poverty would be reduced by 400,000 - meeting the Government's one-quarter cut target immediately. This is the equivalent of raising corporation tax by just 3.5% - which would still be a lower rate than it was in 1997, since New Labour has cut corporation tax from 33% in 1997 to 28% this year.

Of course there are others way too - increasing the minimum wage by more than inflation being one. The other feature in the LEAP March 2008 Red Papers was on inflation and pay (page 12). It showed that this year's increase in the National Minimum Wage (to come into force in October 2008) was just 3.8% - when inflation is 4.3%.

The public sector pay cap - affecting many low paid workers in local government and the civil service - will also hinder future child poverty targets. And as we know, public sector pay has no effect on inflation - so it won't solve our economic problems either.

If New Labour wants to have any chance of saving itself, it should look to these two flagship policies from its first term: the national minimum wage and cutting child poverty. Re-concentrating on those policies might be a good idea for a party floundering at the moment.

Meanwhile, new London Mayor Boris Johnson has his first RMT industrial action on the London Underground as cleaners paid just over £5.50 per hour campaign the London living wage of £7.20 - which Ken promised to introduce as he brought contracts back when Metronet collapsed. Find out how you can support their campaign. Bear in mind that the minimum wage of £5.52 equates to just £10,764 per year full-time. Try living on that in London.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Try living on that anywhere, god London is not the only place in the Uk thats has high cost. trying living on £6,980 which is what I get.