The long-awaited UK child poverty strategy is to be published before the UK Parliament breaks for Easter recess today. This document will lay out how the UK Government, alongside Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish and local government counterparts, will reach the targets of eradicating child poverty by 2020.
This week it has emerged that the Child Poverty Action Group has written to senior Government ministers criticising the late arrival of the strategy, which should have been published by 25 March 2011. They've already missed that deadline, but the Government has assured MPs that the strategy will be published before the recess.
It is not just the date of release that the Government is dragging its heels on. The 2010 Act requires a commission to be set up, whose role includes giving advice on the writing of the UK strategy. DWP minister Maria Miller, recently wrote that "our plans for establishing a Commission will be set out in the Child Poverty Strategy, to be published shortly." This is the wrong way round! The independent commission was intended to inform the writing of the strategy, and to scrutinise the proposals, not to be set up after the strategy has been published.
I hope that this, along with Save the Children's recent concern that the recent UK Budget announcement failed to address child poverty, isn't an indication of this issue dropping further down the list of priorities of our government. Both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats supported the Child Poverty Act when they were in opposition: so what is causing this reticence to comply now?
To take the challenge of tackling child poverty in this country seriously, the UK Government needs to be serious about implementing this law. I wait with interest for their response.