Reframing Child Poverty

By Bell, Kate; Strelitz, Jason | Soundings, Summer 2011 | Go to article overview

Reframing Child Poverty


Bell, Kate, Strelitz, Jason, Soundings


What lessons can we learn from the limitations of Labour's efforts to end child poverty?

The experience of poverty in the UK is the struggle to make ends meet, die frustration and debilitation of dealing with inflexible and unsympathetic bureaucracies, employers, landlords and creditors, and, for many, the shame and alienation that can come with it. It can mean facing pernicious material choices that in today's Britain are unimaginable for most of us, such as whether to put adequate food on the table or to heat the home. It can mean lack of dignity, absence of control and immense time pressures without commensurate reward. Poverty is often compounded and reinforced by other aspects of disadvantage, including challenging neighbourhoods, absence of support and a lack of assets.

We believe that this is the context in which child poverty needs to be situated. Growing up in this kind of poverty has a profound impact on both childhood experience and life chances, at many different levels. For example, children from poor households have worse average educational outcomes and are much more likely to suffer from significant ill health, both in childhood and in adulthood.1

In an attempt to address the issue of children living in poverty, Labour pledged to eradicate child poverty in a generation, focusing on three main lines of attack: supporting family incomes (largely through child contingent measures); welfare to work policies; and a broader agenda aimed at improving children's life chances. This pledge was backed up by investment, energy and commitment, and initially substantial progress was made. There were 900,000 fewer children in poverty (i.e. living below 60 per cent of median income2) when Labour left office than in 19989; and there was good progress on a range of other indicators, in terms of parental employment, family incomes and child well-being.3 A number of reviews of Labour's approach have concluded that where there was significant investment, positive gains were made, particularly in the early years of New Labour.4

Yet to acknowledge these successes should not mask the failings. Labour's goal of halving child poverty by 2010 was not met. And their goal of eradicating child poverty within a generation would require a sustained reduction over the next decade at a level that has not been seen since comparable records started being collected fifty years ago. At present, the Institute for Fiscal Studies predicts that by 2012-13 child poverty will begin to rise.5

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats signed up to the agenda of eradicating child poverty during the last parliament and both supported the Child Poverty Bill just prior to the 2010 election, but there are significant differences in approach. The Conservative narrative focuses substantially on welfare dependency; their critique of Labour is that they concentrated on the wrong thing and exacerbated the problem. This view is coupled with the notion that the state simply can't deliver the kinds of social change which Labour hoped for. Here the 'big society' is central. Meanwhile Nick Clegg has expressed scepticism about efforts to increase family incomes - 'poverty plus a pound is not enough' - and has sought to define 'fairness' in terms of social mobility rather than income inequality: 'For old progressives, reducing snapshot income inequality is the ultimate goal. For new progressives, reducing the barriers to mobility is'.6

With current policy proposals likely to exacerbate poverty, we are seeing little sign of the kind of shift in direction that would be needed to meet the 2020 target. In addition, the conditions have changed substantially: we are no longer 'sharing the proceeds of growth - instead we are in a period of unprecedented cuts, and arguing over the future of the welfare state. What's more, the poorest parts of our society have still not recovered from the dismantling of industrial communities and livelihoods of a generation ago. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Reframing Child Poverty
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.