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Taxpayers’ Union Supports Official Child Poverty Measure

Taxpayers’ Union Supports Introduction of Official Child Poverty Measure
17 OCTOBER 2016

The Taxpayers’ Union is calling on political parties to come together and agree on an official measure and national target to cut childhood poverty.

The Union's Executive Director, Jordan Williams, says, “Irrespective of whether you think the Government is already spending enough on measures to relieve child poverty, we should have an agreed yardstick to hold politicians to account.”

“How can anyone judge whether the Government’s social, housing, and health programmes are effective when no one is measuring the results? It’s tens of billions of taxpayers dollars every year, and we should be measuring how effective that spending is.”

“It’s not about the amount of spending, it’s about the effectiveness of the spending – does it make a difference and how do we know that?”

“If we are to have an official measure of child poverty then it needs to meet two criteria. One is that there is multiparty agreement on it (as for example there is on the Household Labour Force Survey to measure unemployment), and secondly, it actually has to measure poverty and deprivation, and be able to track progress in reducing it.”

“If the consensus of advice from officials and from other stakeholders is that the material deprivation index, as suggested by the Children’s Commissioner Judge Andrew Beecroft, is the most appropriate and effective measure then we and most others will support it.”

“In our view it is more important to get agreement on how to measure child poverty and progress in reducing it than it is to argue over any specific measure. Debate over the various measures risks a lack of agreement on any, and the issue is too important for that.”

“We would like to suggest a multiparty group with officials and non-government representatives be appointed by Parliament to do the job. That would be a sign that MPs are serious about the issue, willing to work together and wanting a sound measurement of the problem.”

“As with all public expenditure the taxpayers’ interest is in having that money used as effectively as possible, which means it is absolutely essential to have national statistics of the size of the problem and of whether the Government’s various programmes are making a difference.”
ENDS

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