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Call for Evidence

Children in poverty: Measurement and targets

The Work and Pensions Committee has launched an inquiry into children in poverty.

This is a complex subject, so our work will be in several parts.

For the first part of its inquiry, the Committee wants to understand how child poverty can most accurately be measured and defined, and how the Department for Work and Pensions should work with other parts of government to reduce the numbers of children living in poverty.

After this, we expect to look at how well the social security system is working for children; at the experiences of children whose parents have no recourse to public funds; at the support available from DWP for working parents; and at support for separated families.


In February 2020, before the impact of the coronavirus pandemic began to be felt, the Office for National Statistics released statistics including information about the future prospects of children who grow up in poverty. It said that:

● Child poverty in the UK is a growing issue and affects more than 4 million children. Growing up in poverty can have negative consequences for children's well-being and future life prospects, such as employment and earnings.

● Young adults who suffer financial hardship as children have significantly greater than average chances of earning lower wages, being unemployed, spending time in prison (men) or becoming a lone parent (women).

● There is a clear pathway from childhood poverty to reduced employment opportunities, with earnings estimated to be reduced by  between 15% and 28%, and the probability of being in employment at age 34 years reduced by between 4% and 7%.

Between 2010 and 2016, there was a target in law for reducing child poverty against a set of measures, as well as a legal requirement for the government to produce a child poverty strategy every three years.

Since 2016, there has been a legal duty on the Government to publish data on:

● children living in workless households in England;

● children living in long-term workless households in England;

● the educational attainment of children in England at the end of Key Stage 4 (GCSE level); and

● the educational attainment of disadvantaged children in England at the same stage.

Call for written submissions

The Committee would like to hear your views on the following questions. You don’t have to answer all of the questions. You can respond on behalf of an organisation, or as an individual.

Measurement and targets

- How should child poverty be measured and defined?

- The measures of child poverty changed in 2016. What has the impact of those changes been?

- What were the advantages and disadvantages of having a set of targets for reducing child poverty?

- What has been the effect of removing from law the targets in place between 2010 and 2016?

- What is the impact of child poverty and how can it best be measured?

- What links can be established for children between financial hardship, educational under-achievement, family breakdown and worklessness?

Joint working

- How effectively does the Department for Work and Pensions work with other Government departments, particularly the Department for Education and the Treasury, to reduce child poverty?

- How effectively does the Department for Work and Pensions work with local authorities and with support organisations to reduce the numbers of children living in poverty and to mitigate the impact of poverty on children?

- What would be the merits of having a cross-government child poverty strategy? How well has this worked in the past?

We want everyone’s voice to be heard in Parliament. Please contact us if for any reason you find it difficult to send us your evidence online. To discuss your needs, you can email us on or call us on 020 7219 8976 (Text relay: 18001 0207 219 8976)

This call for written evidence has now closed.

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