The European Commission has warned over the potential impact of benefit cuts on UK poverty, particularly child poverty.
The Commission has assessed progress made in ‘reforming’ national budgets in line with agreed European Union priorities. Governments generally have not done enough to allow the EU to meet its targets for the fight against poverty, it says.
In a separate report on the UK the Commission says that:
- ‘Considerable risks remain that the positive impact of new policies on employment and incomes will be more than offset by declining amounts available for benefits, so poverty, particularly for families with children, risks increasing.’
- Independent estimates forecast that in 2020/21 absolute child poverty will reach its highest level since 2001/02, and that the government will miss targets for reducing child poverty set down in the Child Poverty Act.
- Insufficient access to childcare, in particular for low earners, still causes significant problems. The government has not yet come up with adequate plans to tackle this challenge. Cuts to support for childcare risk exacerbating the problem.
- The Commission calls on the government to step up measures to: facilitate the labour market integration of people from jobless households; ensure that planned welfare reforms do not translate into increased child poverty; and fully implement measures aimed at facilitating access to childcare services.
Sources: Action for Stability, Growth and Jobs, European Commission | Recommendation for a Council Recommendation on the United Kingdom’s 2012 National Reform Programme and Delivering a Council Opinion on the United Kingdom’s Convergence Programme for 2012–2017, European Commission
Links: EU-wide report | UK-specific report