Legislative Scrutiny: Child Poverty Bill - Human Rights Joint Committee Contents

Memorandum submtited by The Salvation Army

  The Salvation Army welcomes the Joint Committee on Human Rights desire to encourage more input from civil society into its legislative scrutiny work.

  As a Christian Church and registered charity, The Salvation Army in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland experiences the realities of child poverty both at community level through our churches and through our social service centres which provide accommodation and support for those who are homeless and in need.

  The Salvation Army welcomes the introduction of The Child Poverty Bill and the recognition it offers to enshrine in law the Government's commitment to eradicating child poverty by 2020.

  The key goals of the Bill include:

    — Enshrining in law the Government's commitment to eradicate child poverty by 2020.

    — Reducing the proportion of children who are poor compared to the rest of society.

    — Ensuring that no child experiences poverty for long periods of time. Families can often cope with a temporary period when their incomes fall, but research shows that long periods of poverty have a damaging effect on a child's life chances.

    — Measuring whether the poorest families see their real incomes increase over time to ensure that no family lives in absolute poverty.

    — Improving living standards to ensure that all families are able to afford the necessities that others may take for granted, such as adequate housing or a space to play or study.

    — Establishing an accountability framework to drive progress at national and local level through requiring the Government to publish a child poverty strategy every three years until 2020, setting out the steps it will take to end child poverty. The Bill would also ensure that the Government is held to account by Parliament and the public for progress made, through an annual report.

    — Creating a commission of experts in the field of child poverty to provide advice to the Government to inform the child poverty strategy.

  While The Salvation Army supports the aims of the Bill, we are concerned that previous targets in this area have not been met. In the second reading of the Bill, on 20 July, Sammy Wilson MP claimed that there are now 200,000 more UK children in child poverty than in 2004 and, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, it is likely that the UK Government's policies will lead to the target for 2010-2011 being missed by some 600,000 children. We urge the provision of adequate financial resources and cross-departmental support, paying long-term and serious attention to these challenges at a local level.

  The Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Stephen Timms, MP, who is the Government minister in charge of the Bill said:

    "The goal is that no child's life prospects should be limited by an upbringing in poverty ... it remains the case that the likelihood of poverty is twice as high in one-parent households as in two-parent households, which needs to be borne in mind as we set about tackling the problem. Too many families are still on the edge of coping. There should not be, but there are, families who cannot afford to eat properly, keep their home warm or pay for basics such as school uniform or outings, let alone buy presents for birthday parties ..."

  The Salvation Army supports the Bill's aim to improve living standards and to ensure that all families are able to afford the necessities that others may take for granted, such as adequate housing or a space to play or study. Many of the families with whom we come into contact find themselves on the edge of coping financially, many are struggling to provide the daily necessities of living, while others require support in managing their finances and assistance in accessing support (both statutory and voluntary/faith sector) which is currently available to them.

  We welcome Gary Streeter MP's commendation of the work of faith communities and charitable organisations, saying they have a huge part to play in supporting and underpinning families and children and encouraging the Bill to further encourage their work.

  Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Yvette Cooper has commented "The Bill must set clear targets to cut the number of children growing up in low-income and material deprivation". Furthermore, The Salvation Army urges the Bill to give due consideration to the multiple causes of poverty in both single and two parent households, households where children have disabilities or where additional costs of caring and supporting families are incurred.

  The Salvation Army welcomes the Bill's commitment to creating a commission of experts in the field of child poverty to provide advice to the Government and inform the child poverty strategy. As a charity we cannot work in isolation from statutory and other service providers.

  We urge the Joint Committee on Human Rights to consider the Child Poverty Bill carefully in order that the Government might to take account of all children in all circumstances and, through the Bill, give a full commitment to eliminating child poverty in the UK.

September 2009

previous page contents next page

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2009
Prepared 26 November 2009