Political boffin, keen fisherman looking forward to retirement.

Monday, February 12, 2007

How to Remove a Million Children from Poverty – The New Labour Way

Since achieving power, New Labour has always trumpeted the fight against child poverty. It symbolised their alleged determination to turn around the ravages of Thatcherism. But as always with New Labour, scratch under the surface of the rhetoric and not all is as it seems.

In 1999 the baseline year for which future targets were to be measured against, child poverty was measured on the basis of both BHC (before housing cost) and AHC (after housing cost).

The following table reproduces data on baseline, target and actual performance.

AHC (millions)
BHC (millions)
1998/99 (baseline)
Target 2004/05
Actual 2004/05

Credit where credit is due, progress has been made on both BHC and AHC measures, although both targets were missed – crucially by 200,000 more on the AHC measure.

In 2003 the Department for Work and Pensions proposed three new measures for calculating child poverty, which would be used for the 2011 target. All three new measures are calculated using a BHC analysis. At a stroke of a pen therefore over a million children have been removed from poverty based on the 2004/05 actual performance.

Child poverty campaigners argue that the BHC measure is far less accurate as it fails to take into account the costs of housing which significantly affects disposable income levels.

As this blog has eluded before, Gordon Brown and New Labour have a habit for changing the goalposts and cooking the books. Just goes to show that you can’t accept any New Labour pledge at face value.

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