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This briefing has been prepared ahead of second reading on the Child Poverty in the UK (Target for Reduction) Bill 2016-17, scheduled to occur on 3 February 2017. This Bill is a Private Members’ Bill (Ballot Bill), sponsored by Dan Jarvis MP.

The Bill places a duty on the Secretary of State to meet four targets for child poverty by some target date (to be specified). The targets are based on a relative low income measure, a combined low income and material deprivation measure, an absolute low income measure and a persistent poverty measure. The Bill also allows the Secretary of State to introduce, via statutory instrument, targets relating to other measures to be met by the target date.

The four measures and targets specified in the Bill are the same as those used in the Child Poverty Act 2010 (although the Child Poverty Act stated the targets were to be met by 2020/21). The targets in the Child Poverty Act were subsequently removed by the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016, although it had been clear for some time that the targets would not be met. In its 2015 State of the Nation Report, the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission observed that the targets “will be missed by a country mile”.

The Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 instead introduced a duty on Ministers to report annually on two ‘life chances’ indicators, relating to children in workless households and educational attainment. During the 2010-15 Parliament, Ministers had repeatedly signalled their intention to introduce improved poverty measures.

During the passage of the Welfare Reform and Work Act, David Cameron’s Government announced it would publish a life chances strategy, covering other non-statutory indicators in addition to the indicators in the Act. The life chances strategy was originally expected in spring 2016 but it now appears it will not be published. However, the Government has announced it will publish a Social Justice Green Paper in 2017.

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