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Half a million more children forced into poverty by 2015, warns Children’s Commissioner

Government is breaching its ‘obligations on children’s rights’, concludes report

Over half a million more children will be forced into poverty by 2015 because of Government fiscal policies and tax and benefit changes, according to a report published by the Office of the Children's Commissioner for England.

The report,  Child Rights Impact Assessment of Budget Decisions: including the 2013 Budget, and the cumulative impact of tax-benefit reforms and reductions in spending on public services 2010 - 2015 is based on a detailed quantitative analysis of the cumulative effects of cuts in public spending and tax and benefit changes. The work was carried out by expert independent economists. It does not take account of the Chancellor's announcements in the Spending Review statement this week.

The changes will have the greatest negative impact on families with children who are losing, on average, £41.07 a week. Single parents and those with disabled children are particularly hard hit, with the former losing 7.8% of their income. The income of families with children has been reduced by over twice as much as similar families without children.

The report says that Universal Credit and reforms that will come into force by 2015 and 2016 will go some way to offsetting the negative effects of fiscal measures and benefit reforms for some families, but will not cancel all the losses that families have experienced since 2010.

The report sets out the negative effect the changes are having on children against the international duties the Government has signed-up to. The evidence suggests that the Government has not complied with the obligation to implement children's rights to the maximum extent of the resources available to it. This is in stark contrast with its stated commitment to reducing child poverty.

Howard Reed, Director of Landman Economics, said:

"The reductions have a bigger percentage impact on poorer families than richer families, meaning that children in poor families lose out most of all. Current policies are likely to result in an extra half million children in poverty in the next five years."

Responding to the Spending Review Statement by the Chancellor, Alison Garnham, Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group, said:

"A spending plan with a long term vision for Britain would have the wellbeing and development of our children at the heart of it, whereas the Coalition's strategy has been to put families at the frontline of austerity. When millions of British children are left to grow up in poverty, everyone's future prosperity suffers."

The Children's Commissioner's report can be read here.