Coalition ministers clash over child poverty

In a speech to the think-tank ResPublica, the Children’s Minister Lib Dem MP Sarah Teather argued that ‘those who suggest that income plays no part in poverty are wrong’.

This appeared directly to contradict an earlier statement by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith (see Iain Duncan Smith rejects benefits as way to tackle poverty) that ‘tackling child poverty by boosting family income through benefits is a narrow approach’.

Teather also denied the Coalition have plans to abandon child poverty targets set by the previous Labour government. ‘We are committed to the targets in the Child Poverty Act; including the relative, absolute and persistent measures’, she added. She also said that although income redistribution could play its part, it wasn’t sufficient in tackling child poverty. ‘Something about the way our society is structured, and the way our education system operates and supports or doesn’t support, seems to lock in underachievement and poverty.’

Earlier, on 25 February, the Times newspaper had reported that Teather had blocked plans drawn up by three senior Conservatives to scrap the government’s poverty targets, along with the measure of poverty based on 60 per cent of median income.

Teather’s address to the ResPublica conference can be found on the National Family Mediation website.

Details of the disagreements with government on child poverty can be found on the government online website and on the PoliticsHome website.