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Government acts on CSJ calls to change poverty definition

The Government has launched a consultation in an attempt to overhaul the way child poverty is measured in the UK – a move the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) has been urging politicians to make for years.

The current income-based method for measuring poverty is narrow and fails to take into account many of the root causes of low-income, like: family breakdown, economic dependency, educational failure and addiction.

A child is considered to be living in poverty if their household income is less than 60 per cent of the median income – which Christian Guy, Managing Director at the CSJ, said does not tell the whole story.

He took part in a number of broadcast interviews – including BBC News 24 and BBC Radio 5 Live’s Breakfast show – where he argued the current system that uses an arbitrary income figure has failed to change the lives of millions of families across the UK.

He said: “For too long politicians have tried to deal with child poverty by throwing a few extra pounds at families living below a ‘so-called’ poverty line. It is clear that we urgently need a new approach that acknowledges child poverty has social as well as economic roots.”

Since 2006, when it published Breakdown Britain, the CSJ has produced a number of studies that have called for a change in the definition of child poverty. The most recent paper, from earlier this year, was Rethinking Child Poverty.

Stable families key to rebuilding British society, David Lammy MP tells CSJ event

The Government must focus on delivering policies that give children the best start in life if it wants to tackle some of the UK’s most acute social problems, David Lammy MP said at a CSJ event this week.

Mr Lammy was speaking to a packed audience at the CSJ’s series of ‘Good Society’ lectures, which explore Labour’s social reform plans.

The former Government Minister, whose commentary on last year’s riots was deemed invaluable, also said that strengthening communities should be a political priority. He said that the ‘Big Society’ had “great potential” but “is coming up short”.

The event was the second of three lectures. Jon Cruddas MP, who is currently leading the party’s policy review, will complete the series next month. To find out more and book a place click here.

CSJ to launch widely-anticipated Breakthrough Britain II study

The CSJ is delighted to announce the launch date of its major Breakthrough Britain II study – a project Prime Minister David Cameron said will “shine a light into some of the deep and dark places in our society”.

The independent research will be conducted between now and 2014 and will examine extensively the root causes of poverty and social breakdown in the UK.

It will follow-up on the 2007 report Breakthrough Britain, which was hailed as a definitive investigation into social problems that impact communities across the UK. Amongst its achievements, Breakthrough Britain's unprecedented diagnosis of deprivation sparked an overhaul of drug treatment, the welfare system and the UK's poverty measure.

In that report the CSJ identified five 'pathways to poverty': family breakdown, economic dependency and worklessness, educational failure, drug and alcohol addiction and serious personal debt.

The new study, which will outline a radical poverty-fighting strategy for any incoming Government in 2015, will be launched by the Rt Hon Oliver Letwin MP, Minister of Policy in the Cabinet Office, in London on November 29.

For an overview of Breakthrough Britain, click here.