In Praise of the Manchester Evening News's Child Poverty Campaign

The definition of poverty, according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies,  is those earning under 60% of the median household earnings. In the latest figures, the median figure is £414 per week, or £21, 528 per year. That means that anyone with a household income of under £12,917 family was officially “in poverty”.

We have a duty to protect our nation’s children and help them to fulfil their potential. Recent reports on the state of child poverty in the UK are disheartening, showing that 2.3 million children are living in poverty in the UK.

Any child living in poverty is too many, but Manchester has the highest percentage of children in poverty nationwide outside London. In 2009, 41,600 lived in relative poverty, about 2 in 5 of all Manchester children. That is almost double the national average.

The Manchester Evening News have done an important job of highlighting the situation, as they did under the last government,  and has been running a campaign to raise awareness for child poverty in the city. I’d like to do my part by spreading the word about what has been done to alleviate poverty and the current Government’s plans to do even more.

From 1999 to 2010, despite throwing a lot of money at the problem – £150 Billion in tax credits – the previous Government failed to meet its 2010 target of lowering the number of children in poverty to 1.7 million. While there was a downward trend during this period, it mostly benefitted the workless poor. Those who were employed, but still suffering in poverty, saw less benefit.

In 2011, the Coalition Government has set out a strategy that focused on the root causes of poverty: educational failure, worklessness, family breakdown, severe debt; and health issues, such as alcohol and drug addiction. Under Labour from 1999-2010, we saw a drop of 800,000 children in poverty, still 0.9 million short of their 2010 target. But the Coalition’s actions are making a difference – in just one year, from 2010-2011, 300,000 children were lifted out of poverty. A higher proportion that under the last government. Most of these are children from the working poor.

That is why I support plans to raise the tax threshold to £10,ooo, and should raise it to £13,000, so that no-one in poverty pays income tax. That is why I opposed Labour abolition of the 10p tax rate

I am far from satisfied – we are still 600,000 short of Labour’s 2010 target and far from the goal of “eradicating child poverty”. There is no easy fix for poverty, but we need agencies, the government, and the people working together to form viable solutions.

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