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How does the government target child poverty? Stop monitoring it

The Democratic Left Network attended a seminar last night put on by the Resolution Foundation on improving the career prospects of non-graduates.

So far, so interesting.

It got even more interesting when Alan Milburn, the former MP who leads the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission, spoke briefly about his commission's "re-brand."

"In terms of our re-branding by the way as a commission", he began, "just in case you thought we spent oodles of money on a huge exercise and we got lots of brand consultants in... it was something that was done to us by the Government

Milburn pointed out that until Monday they are still the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission. After that they drop the Child Poverty element of the name and become just the Social Mobility Commission.

"We lose 'Child Poverty' as from Monday, which is a bit of a shame because there are three million children who are living in poverty but [gasp of breath] there we are. You win some, you lose some when it comes to public policy".

"We'll be focusing more exclusively on [social mobility] than the child poverty remit".

All a bit awkward. Especially if you watch it, the room becomes very tense.

It comes at a particularly awkward time, too.

In April, a news item noted that "Britain has been reprimanded by the UN over its record on reducing inequality among children, as a report revealed we lag behind some much poorer nations in achieving parity between rich and poor on health and educational outcomes, and warned over the likely impact of future welfare cuts."

Then on Tuesday came the news that the Government’s proposed Universal Credit benefits system will likely increase child poverty.

Stephen Timms MP said: “The projected increases in child poverty over the next few years simply reverse the large falls seen under Labour,” citing research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

No wonder the Government wants to re-brand the commission set up to monitor how well the UK is doing at reducing child poverty.

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