HM Treasury

Newsroom & speeches

23 June 2008

Government outlines new ways to lift children out of poverty and increase social mobility

A package of new initiatives to help families and end child poverty as part of a renewed drive to increase social mobility will be announced by Children’s Secretary Ed Balls, Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Yvette Cooper today.

The announcement of the pilot measures come ahead of a speech on social mobility by the Prime Minister Gordon Brown this evening. The Prime Minister will say that unleashing a new wave of social mobility must be the driving ambition of the Government. The new measures aim to put some of the poorest children on the path to success, delivering prosperity and fairness for hard-working families that play by the rules and breaking cycles of poverty once and for all.

The pilots will build on already successful initiatives – such as offering new services in children’s centres as well as testing new approaches to improving families’ incomes. They include:

Depending on the success of the pilots in the first two years, there may be scope to extend or introduce additional pilots in year 3.

Children’s Secretary Ed Balls said:

“Child poverty blights the life chances of far too many children in our country which is why we are absolutely determined to end child poverty, stop poverty passing from one generation to the next and increase social mobility.

“Thanks to the measures we have taken over the last ten years we have lifted 600,000 children out of relative poverty, but we know there is more to do. That is why it is vital that we learn from these pilots and identify more ways to help families living in poverty.

“We have set an ambitious target to half child poverty by 2010 and eradicate it by 2020. Tackling child poverty is in everybody’s interests and needs to be everybody’s business. Together we can up the pace of change and meet our historic goal.”

Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell said:

“The greatest cause of child poverty is worklessness among parents – a child in a household where no one works can be up to 7 times more at risk of living in poverty than a child in a working family.

“These pilots will provide parents with the practical solutions they need to overcome the barriers that are stopping them for working and are central to helping us meet our target of eradicating child poverty completely by 2020.”

Chief Secretary to HM Treasury Yvette Cooper said:

“Over the next two years increased Child Benefit and Tax Credits will help take around half a million children out of poverty. But we also need to tackle the long-term causes of child poverty, and that is what these pilots are all about.”

Notes for editors

1. The Government has already made good progress on reducing child poverty - 600,000 children have already been lifted out of relative poverty and long-term unemployment continues to fall, with big improvements in educational attainment. Today there are 2.8 million more people in work and a million fewer people on out-of-work benefits than a decade ago.

2. From 1998/1999 to 2006/2007 the number of children living in relative poverty (before housing costs are taken into account) fell from 3.4 million to 2.9 million.

3. More information on the Government’s commitment to tackle child poverty can be found in "Ending Child Poverty: Everybody’s Business".

4. The pilots are part of the reforms announced in the 2008 Budget that will see investment in tackling child poverty increase by £950m by 2010/11. £125million will be used to set up the pilot programmes which will play a crucial part in helping meet the 2020 target to eradicate child poverty. Together with measures announced in the 2007 Budget and Pre Budget Report, the Budget’08 fiscal reforms will help lift around 500,000 more children out of poverty.

5. A series of events are planned across the summer to involve stakeholders and external experts in the Unit’s work towards developing a strategy for eradicating child poverty by 2020. The first of these events – Ending Child Poverty – thinking 2020’ will take place on the 24th June at Westminster Central Hall. The aim of this event is to kick-start the dialogue with stake-holders on the strategy to 2020. Approximately 100 delegates are expected including the voluntary sector, academics and officials across Whitehall. The events are being held jointly by the Department of Children, Schools and Families, Department for Work and Pensions and HM Treasury.

6. Non-media enquiries should be addressed to the Treasury Correspondence and Enquiry Unit on 020 7270 4558 or by e-mail to

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Media enquiries should be addressed to the Treasury Press Office on 020 7270 5238.

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