Rethinking child poverty

Document type
Corporate author(s)
Centre for Social Justice (Great Britain)
Centre for Social Justice
Date of publication
29 May 2012
Children and Young People, Poverty Alleviation Welfare Benefits and Financial Inclusion
Social welfare
Material type

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This paper argues that the current measure of child poverty is inadequate. It fails to acknowledge that poverty is about much more than a lack of income. The Centre for Social Justice believes that in order to construct a measure of poverty that is both accurate and useful, it is vital that the main drivers of poverty – family breakdown, educational failure, economic dependency and worklessness, addiction and serious personal debt – are made the priority for measurement. A faulty conceptualisation of the nature of poverty has resulted in an overarching income inequality target which drives short-term, narrow and expensive policy responses. This paper outlines serious concerns with this measure, most notably that the exclusive use of an arbitrary line to measure child poverty tells us almost nothing about the suffocating nature of child deprivation. It also fails to assess the opportunities a child has to break free from their present circumstances. It draws on a wide range of evidence and case studies in order to propose a new approach to measurement which focuses on these key drivers.

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