CPAGThursday 23 August 2012, 2:57PM
Media release from CPAG
Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has dismissed the government's
Children Results Action Plan to support vulnerable children as a
public relations exercise.
While improving specific aspects of children's health and access
to early childhood education are good in themselves, the report
fails to grapple in any meaningful way with the drivers of poor
outcomes. "Despite saying they are doing something about child
poverty, the government seems reluctant to stump up any new
spending to deal with this social blight. Instead, the badly
designed Working for Families and the gradual erosion of social
spending have made living conditions for many children worse since
the onset of the recession.
"It is disingenuous to repackage targets set for the public
service which were announced back in July, as an Action Plan for
Children. A comprehensive action plan needs to address underlying
issues of poverty and disadvantage, not tinker with a few outcomes
such as reducing rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever is a disease of
poverty, and occurs when children live in poor quality housing. We
need to be looking at housing issues and access to health services,
not hoping it will go away with throat swabs and raising community
awareness. A comprehensive plan would also incorporate all sectors
and look at integrating them so that they deliver quality services
to all children, with a goal of improving incomes and reducing
social inequalities. These targets do not do this."
CPAG says the government needs to rethink its strategy along the
lines of the report from Every Child Counts, which calls for
greater spending on children and the provision of universal
services as the cheapest and most effective way for all children to
get the services they need. Treating all low income children as
equally worthy of the same weekly income support through Working
for Families is one obvious place to start.
"In his extensive report on reducing health inequalities, Sir
Michael Marmot argued that targeted services do not reduce
inequalities. The most effective services are universally provided,
with greater resources going to the worst off. For any action plan
to have a real and sustained effect on improving outcomes for
children, household income and housing must be addressed. Anything
else is just putting the problem to one side."