12 May 2011

Figures published today by the Department for Work and Pensions show that 3.8 million children were living in poverty in the UK in 2009/10, 100,000 fewer than in 2008/09.

Anita Tiessen, UNICEF UK's Executive Director, said:

"100,000 fewer children living in poverty every day must be seen as a notable achievement. UNICEF's report, The Children Left Behind, clearly demonstrated that income inequality is the key factor in holding poor children back in the UK. We attribute the improvement today to investment in income transfers such as child tax credits and childcare.

"However, progress remains manifestly too slow. The 2020 target to end child poverty isn’t simply a catchphrase. It is a serious requirement of the Child Poverty Act that the Government is committed to by law.

"The response from the coalition Government cannot be about passing blame for this slow progress back to the previous government. The focus today must be on what can be done to help the millions of children living in poverty. 3.8 million children are still struggling and waiting for change. Children can’t wait any longer."

UNICEF UK is calling on the Government to:

  • Make sure every Minister and every Government department prioritises tackling child poverty.
  • Revise the current child poverty strategy to contain a greater focus on income and explicit targets to reduce child poverty year on year to 2020.
  • Take a truly holistic approach to tackling child poverty by ensuring low income is prioritised as well as early years and social protection.
    Apply a 'fairness' test to all proposed changes to the benefit, tax, health and education systems to ensure that new policies do not increase inequality between children.
  • Design the new universal credit to ensure that no family with children has to live on less than a living wage.
  • Promote the living wage.
Three girls playing on the street in the UK.   © Photofusion
Girls playing on the street in Leeds.© Photofusion