A couple of weeks ago at the Labour Party Conference, Gordon Brown pledged to “enshrine in law Labour’s pledge to end child poverty” although the specifics were hazy. The Campaign to End Child Poverty staged a march in central London yesterday, urging the government to spend more on eradicating child poverty.
The campaigners said that next year’s budget is the last opportunity for the Government to invest to ensure it hit its target of halving child poverty by 2010 – A crucial waypoint en route to complete eradication by 2020. However, the campaigners (and likely Gordon Brown too) may be suffering from short-term thinking, a target mentality that makes the longer fight against poverty harder to win. In an article published on Comment is Free earlier this year, my colleague Ian Mulheirn makes the case for scrapping the 2010 target, in favour of a renewed focus on the 2020 goal. While the 2010 goal can be solved by another £3bn in tax credits (the policy the campaigners are marching for), the 2020 goal will be solved by more long-term measures, such as increased, targeted spending on education:
Further spending in pursuit of the 2010 target would divert precious resources into tackling the symptoms of child poverty while neglecting its underlying causes. …
…the 2010 and 2020 poverty targets now represent distinct visions of how to tackle child poverty. As money becomes scarcer, they are increasingly becoming opposing visions. It is clear that the provision of real equality of opportunity, represented by the 2020 target, rather than the palliative of tax credits, should now be the priority.