Conference Paper Australian Social Policy Conference
Can Child Poverty be Abolished? Promises and Policies in the UK
20 Jul 2005
In 1999 Tony Blair, the UK Prime Minister, promised to end child poverty within a generation. What does this mean? Can it be achieved? What progress has been made so far? The paper starts by placing UK child poverty at the end of the 20th Century in historical and international context. It reviews the policies that have been introduced in order to meet specific interim targets - of reducing child poverty by one quarter by 2004/5 and halving it in ten years - and discusses the prospects for success in meeting these targets. The second part takes a step back and reflects on why child poverty - rather than poverty more generally - has become the political and policy focus. It then considers whether such an emphasis - together with the particular policy directions that have been taken - may be counter-productive in meeting the eventual goal of ending child poverty. The 'end to child poverty' has now been translated as meaning having achieved a relative child poverty rate that is 'among the best (i.e. lowest) in Europe'. The final part of the paper considers what this might involve. To what extent can the policy approaches taken by the current 'best in Europe' countries be seen as recipes for success for the UK, or indeed elsewhere?