Child poverty in 2015

In 2015, CPAG marked our 50th anniversary. While we celebrated our past, we continued to campaign on many fronts over a year that presented both opportunities and challenges to our half century pursuit of an end to child poverty.

  1. Moving the goalposts on child poverty - cartoon
    Moving the goalposts on child poverty - cartoon
  2. We started the year very worried about a vital part of the safety net, local welfare assistance. If your cooker breaks and you haven’t got any savings, it can cause a real crisis. Local welfare assistance is one off payments made by councils to deal with these crises - the safety net below the safety net. The government was threatening to cut funding for local welfare assistance, leaving it to cash-strapped councils to find the money. After a vigorous campaign by charities including CPAG and a thousand of our supporters, the government agreed to reinstate £74 million worth of funding for local welfare assistance.
  3. In March, our case to the Supreme Court challenging the Benefit Cap very narrowly missed being upheld. Two out of five Judges believed the Benefit Cap breaches the Human Rights Act and three out of five rules that it contravenes the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  4. The general election dominated the spring of this year, with CPAG reaching out to all parties with our Programme for Government 2015-2020, a set of six actions the incoming government could take to reduce child poverty. One of our key priorities has always been affordable, high quality childcare, so we were delighted when Labour and the Conservatives started a bidding war on who would offer the most free childcare to parents if they were elected.
  5. The subsequent Conservative government brought forward its plans on childcare in May and we’re currently working on lobbying to make sure the 30 hours free childcare is easily available to all parents who are entitled, at times that work for their jobs and their children. 
  6. Meanwhile,we demonstrated for the fourth year running just how short some parents working full-time are falling of the minimum they need to raise their families. A family with two kids and both parents working full-time on the minimum wage are £75.75 short of what they need – a big gap.
  7. We, together with other members of the End Child Poverty coalition, proposed that children's benefits should be treated in the same way as pensions and protected by a 'triple lock'.
  8. Shortly after the election, the Chancellor announced his plans to cut tax credits, which would mean a loss of up to £2350 to some families. We contributed evidence on how badly different types of employees would be hit by the cuts – leading to an article in the Sun, boosting their campaign that this was a cut too far. Over a thousand of our supporters emailed their MPs to ask them to challenge the cuts. We were delighted when the Chancellor agreed to cancel his cuts.
  9. While public attention was focused on the parliamentary drama over tax credits, the government pushed forward on the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, which among other changes, will scrap the legally binding targets to end child poverty voted in in 2010.
  10. We’ve mounted our biggest public campaign yet, All Kids Count, responding to the proposals. Just under 50,000 people have signed a petition set up by an ordinary mum called Rebecca, who is outraged by the government’s plans to give up on child poverty. As she said, “Children in poverty already feel poor and disadvantaged,why should they also be unnoticed?”. The petition will be presented to the House of Lords in January, before they vote on whether to pass the government’s changes.
  11. We continue to scrutinise the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, which will have its Third Reading in the House of Lords in January. Meanwhile, the government is providing an alarming dearth of information on how the various measures contained in the Bill will impact on children and families.
  12. So, a busy year - and a challenging one. Speaking at a celebration of our 50th anniversary, Gordon Brown reiterated that CPAG continues to be as necessary now as we were 50 years ago.
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