Tackling child poverty – lessons from abroad

The coalition needs to urgently review its approach to reducing child poverty, says a new report from the National Children's Bureau. The government should spend less time focusing on how child poverty is measured, it argues, and concentrate instead on practical lessons from other countries about what works best in tackling the problem.

Key points

  • Bringing childcare costs within the reach of low-income families, and encouraging mothers into employment, is key to the approach of countries such as Denmark. The government should consider increasing the number of hours of free early education available, raising the proportion of childcare costs covered by tax credits and universal credit, and reviewing how after-school care can be made more readily available.
  • Supplementing families' incomes for engaging in activities that promote child health and well-being can contribute to tackling child poverty. A New York scheme gives families extra cash on top of existing benefits or tax credits, increasing families' financial resources at the same time as encouraging the use of health services and regular school attendance.
  • The government must develop a community-based approach that recognises that poverty is concentrated in specific geographic areas. It should fund local authorities to create neighbourhood-based 'anti-poverty innovation zones', bringing together the full range of agencies and services that promote children's well-being, and developing community approaches to tackling child poverty.
  • The government should set up a single body to drive forward the delivery of its child poverty strategy across government departments. A single central government delivery board, made up of ministers and supported by senior civil servants, should have the power and authority to hold government departments to account as they introduce measures to tackle child poverty.

Source: Becky Fauth, Zoe Renton and Enver Solomon, Tackling Child Poverty and Promoting Children's Well-Being: Lessons from Abroad, National Children's Bureau
LinksReport | NCB press release