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Monday, March 03, 2008

Setting targets

This morning's Western Mail reports on the conclusion of the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee that the Government is set to miss its target of halving the number of children living in poverty by around one million unless more resources are made available and further reforms are made to the benefits system.

In particular the Committee expressed concern that the Jobseekers Allowance regime was too inflexible to cope with the "complexity" of many lone parents lives, particularly those with disabled children.

Some of us have been arguing for some time that the 2010 target was unrealistic simply because the Government is not working in a joined-up enough way to achieve it, if it can be achieved at all. The big imponderables in this calculation are fuel and housing costs, which are largely outside the control of government and which can impact severely on a person's ability to make ends meet.

It is right that Government continues to make tackling poverty one if its key aims, however in doing so they must invest in improving opportunity for our poorest children, particularly in education, as well as making the transition from benefits to work as easy as possible for their parents. That includes benefit reform but it also involves investment in childcare, better public transport, training and skills.
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