Iain Duncan Smith, the work and pensions secretary, is set to unveil a new method in measuring child poverty, saying the current method of comparing relative incomes is outmoded and unhelpful.
He points out that while 300,000 households moved out of relative poverty since the 2010 general election, this was more down to a decline in median household income nationally which pushed the poverty line down. "As we saw earlier this year", said Duncan Smith, "when the child poverty level dropped by 2%, a fall in the median income may lift a family out of poverty on paper. Yet real incomes did not rise and absolute poverty was unchanged." For the 300,000 children no longer in poverty according to the official statistics, life was no different.
"Our plan is to measure absolute poverty instead and our changes to welfare will ensure that this is a simple procedure", he continued. "Once we've removed any assistance for education, any out-of-work benefits, restricted child benefit and tax credits and made sickness and disability benefits extremely difficult to claim, we will be able to reach our target of 100% child poverty, making these measurements very easy indeed".