The CSJ has called for a far reaching overhaul of the existing poverty measures in our new report, "Improving Life Chances".
Amending the Welfare Reform and Work Bill:
The Government is in the process of reforming previous measures of poverty contained in the 2010 Child Poverty Act, through the Welfare Reform and Work Bill. This legislation is a key part of the Prime Minister's Life Chances Agenda and will enable him to measure the success of his "all-out assault on poverty" through a series of measures which look at the drivers of poverty and the life chances of children living in poorer families.
On 25th January an amendment was approved by the House of Lords which reintroduced relative income measures, but not binding targets, to the Bill.
We are urging the Government to take into account the five main drivers of poverty – family breakdown, worklessness, drug and alcohol addiction, personal debt and educational failure within the Government’s plans for a new approach to measuring poverty.
In our report we set out a range of measurements to track progress in each of these areas.
Improving Life Chances Report:
Our report creates a life chance risk assessment that classifies children as at risk of poverty if they live in families where parents have an addiction, are in serious personal debt, have no skills or only one parent is able to work.
The report also includes a new income measure of poverty, responding to a cross-party amendment which placed a previously discredited income measure of poverty back into the Bill.
We recommend that an income based measure of poverty could be used as a ‘gateway’ to tackle the root causes of poverty through an agenda focused on life chances.
In our report we argue that this would give a financial dimension to the Life Chances Agenda and acknowledge the importance of income.
Our new metric for measuring poverty would identify a child as being in poverty if they were found to have one or two life chance risks and their family fell below one of the income measures. Where a child had three or more life chance risks and was in an income poor family for three years, the child would be considered to be in a new category of persistent poverty.
This report seeks to fundamentally change the way we view poverty and gives the Government new tools to deliver the Prime Minister's Life Chances Agenda.