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Calls for Government to scrap flawed child poverty targets

Crude and flawed yardsticks for measuring child poverty should be scrapped and replaced with a range of new indicators reflecting the true causes of deprivation, according to a think-tank.

The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) condemns the existing official formula as arbitrary and faulty and says that it conveys almost nothing about the suffocating nature of genuine hardship.

Christian Guy, Managing Director of the CSJ, said: “Poverty is about more than money - it is about the family breakdown, addiction, debt-traps, and failing schools that blight the lives of our children.”

The current system classifies a child as poor if he or she is brought up in a family with an income below 60% of median household income.

According to the CSJ, the ‘relative’ yardstick takes no account of the true, underlying causes of a deprived upbringing, for instance whether a child has the love and care of two parents, whether he or she has the role model of adults who go out to work for a living, or whether drug or alcohol addiction scars family life.

The CSJ suggests a new approach to computing poverty levels, taking into account a far wider range of variables, reflecting quality of life as well as quantity of income.

Other factors that should be taken into account include the ability to save, the quality of a child’s parenting, family stability because children from broken homes are twice as likely to suffer behavioural problems than those from intact families, levels of worklessness in households because children tend to repeat the work habits of their parents, access to good schools, truancy rates, drug and alcohol addiction and levels of household debt.

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