Posted: 27 January 2016

Lords vote to keep reporting on child poverty

The House of Lords has voted to force the government to measure and report on child poverty recently, despite the government’s recent attempts to replace this requirement to with report on the number of children in workless families, and with low levels of educational attainment. 

This was a great success for the End Child Poverty’s Money Matters Campaign which put campaigners in touch with peers to put pressure on the government to keep measuring child poverty.

During the debate, one member of the House of Lords, the Lord Bishop of Durham was very supportive of the work we’d done so far saying:

“The Children’s Society and many other charities that work with children and families in poverty day in and day out are still convinced that [statistics on child poverty] is important information to have alongside tackling the other drivers [of poverty].”

What we are campaigning for

Alongside being Director of Policy and Research at The Children’s Society I’m also the chair of the End Child Poverty (ECP) campaign. The End Child Poverty coalition consists of over 100 organisations in the UK. Every day End Child Poverty members see the real impacts that poverty has on the daily lives of children today.

When the Welfare Reform and Work Bill was published it had within it provisions to end the legally binding commitment to measure and report on levels of child poverty in the UK. As an alternative to reporting on the number of children living in poverty, the Government to introduce a legal requirment to report on the number of children in workless families, and those with low levels of educational attainment. These were to be called Life Chances Measures

These proposed new measures – though valuable in themselves – amount, on their own, to not measuring poverty at all. Educational attainment and worklessness are relevant indicators that are linked to child poverty, but they are far from sufficient indicators of poverty when reviewed alone. In eality, two-thirds of children in poverty live in households where there is someone in work. Removing existing targets and replacing them with measures that ignore the increasing reality of in-work poverty will not get to the heart of understanding child poverty in the UK.

What did we do about it?

As soon as we had seen what the Government were proposing, we at the ECP and The Children’s Society thought this was unacceptable and needed to be stopped. 

Straight away, we started planning and quickly got together our Money Matters campaign which allowed our supporters to email members of the House of Lords and ask them to vote against the Government plans.

In the end, over 2,000 emails were sent from our campaigners to the Lords. We had loads of feedback from Peers from The House of Lords about how great it was to see the wealth of public support on the issue.

Finally, we took our campaign to Parliament. On the day of the vote, Monday 25 January, the End Child Poverty campaigners stood outside parliament with Lords and MPs from all different parties as they showed their support for our campaign.

This turned out to be a great success with Lords voting overwhelmingly in favour of the Bishop of Durham’s amendments.

The campaign will continue as we see whether the House of Commons will keep the amendments and we’ll be sure to update our supporters as we find out more but in the meantime please share the news of this great win on Twitter.

By Sam Royston - Policy team

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