Conservatives contest claims over child poverty levels in the UK

7 April 2015

In an interview with the Channel 4 news political correspondent Michael Crick, Osborne recently credited the coalition’s welfare reforms with reducing child poverty and inequality. However, figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies estimate that child poverty levels will rise to 5 million over the next five years.

This has raised concerns from SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon who spoke out against ‘years of Westminster austerity’ which she claimed has ‘harmed the poorest ten per cent of households harder than anyone else – hitting families with children hard’. Sturgeon added that ‘the absolute last people who should be paying the price of austerity cuts are children, yet that is precisely what is happening under the plans of all of the Westminster establishment parties.’

In Scotland the IFS has estimated that child poverty will rise by 100,000.

Sturgeon’s criticisms emerge alongside concerns raised by a recent parliamentary joint committee report, which states that recent government policy has overlooked the UNconvention on the rights of the child (UNCRC). Patrick Butler, writing for the Guardian particularly cites the benefit cap as an example of government policy which has been found to be in breach of the UNCRC.

Butler writes that the Department for work and pensions, the departments for justice and the Home Office have ‘lacked the political will’ to meet their UNCRC obligations, despite the coalition’s promises in 2010 to give due consideration to children’s rights whilst making policy.

In response to recent testaments from teachers that children are living in ‘Victorian conditions in the inner cities’, the Conservatives have claimed that child poverty has fallen by 300,000. The Liberal Democrats told the BBC that they had supported families by introducing free school meals for infant children.