Don’t ignore income when looking at poverty and life chances

Looking at the Frank Field's review on poverty and life chances, it is wrong to suggest family income is not important to the future chances of children.

Dalia Ben-Galim is an Associate Director at the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr)

We know that what happens to children before the age of five can have a major impact on how they get on later in life. Frank Field’s independent review on poverty and life chances, published today, calls for better early years services and more support for parents. Whilst this is important in eradicating child poverty, the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr) is warning the government not to ignore family income as a critical measure of the quality of children’s lives.

In his report, Field sets up a false choice between raising benefits and tax credits for low income families and improving early years services. But it is wrong to suggest that family income is not important to the future chances of children.

Field rightly emphasis the role of parenting, but international evidence shows that parenting skills are often linked to income. Parents who feel more financially secure are better able to give their children the best support. Field’s review seems to ignore this evidence.

He is right to say that early years services need more investment. Yet his review follows real term cuts to Sure Start announced in the Spending Review, whereas funding for schools was given a real-terms increase. This raises questions about the coalition government’s commitment to early years support as part of the overall education budget.

UNICEF’s latest report once again shows that the UK trails behind other countries on measures of child well-being. The UK comes fourth from bottom (out of 24 countries) on overall levels of inequality in child well-being. Only Italy, Greece and the USA are lower. Countries that have comprehensive provision that include both income measures and services achieve better outcomes for children.

And this report comes at a time when the costs for families are increasing, with higher heating bills, Christmas around the corner and increases to VAT which will have a disproportionate impact on poor families.

Ippr recognises the current fiscal constraints and argues that the government should focus its efforts in this parliament on eradicating child poverty among the under-fives, rather than all children up to the age of 18, as poverty is most detrimental to children during the early years. To achieve this target both increased family income and improved services are needed.

17 Responses to “Don’t ignore income when looking at poverty and life chances”

  1. FrancisDoherty

    RT @leftfootfwd: Don’t ignore income when looking at poverty and life chances: //bit.ly/hJ6mI8 writes @ippr's Dalia Ben-Galim

  2. Sammy Shummo

    RT @leftfootfwd: Don’t ignore income when looking at poverty and life chances: //bit.ly/hJ6mI8 writes @ippr's Dalia Ben-Galim

  3. The Free Market

    #CFP #SKP Don't ignore income when looking at poverty and life chances: Frank Field's independent review on pove… //bit.ly/fREWWO

  4. Mike O'Brien

    RT @leftfootfwd: Don’t ignore income when looking at poverty and life chances: //bit.ly/hJ6mI8 writes @ippr's Dalia Ben-Galim

  5. Trade Income

    Don't ignore income when looking at poverty and life chances //bit.ly/gkASLO

  6. First Income

    Don't ignore income when looking at poverty and life chances //bit.ly/gkASLO

  7. The Free Market

    #CFP #SKP Don't ignore income when looking at poverty and life chances //bit.ly/fPiViG

  8. janie_s

    we do badly because we stick whole families on benefits for decades. kids need to grow up in the same house as a wage earner or you condemn them to lives of misery.

  9. Mr. Sensible

    And Janie how do you propose that this is done given the state of the labour market?

  10. janie_s

    and what state is that? there are 400,000 vacancies and if they were all filled there’d be 400,000 more. unemployment is a result of the benefit system.

  11. Chris

    @janie_s

    “and what state is that?”

    5ish jobseekers for every vacancy.

    “there are 400,000 vacancies and if they were all filled there’d be 400,000 more.”

    Are you being serious?

    “unemployment is a result of the benefit system.”

    Were you born stupid or did you have to work at it?

  12. janie_s

    ad hominem. not interested.

    and yes, I am being serious. every immigrant that came here over the last 10 years got a job. they spent the money in the economy which created new jobs. exactly the same for coming off benefits.

  13. paulstpancras

    Don’t ignore income when looking at poverty and life chances | Left Foot Forward
    //bit.ly/eudMsT

  14. Jo Dooher

    RT @leftfootfwd: Don’t ignore income when looking at poverty and life chances: //bit.ly/hJ6mI8 writes @ippr's Dalia Ben-Galim

  15. John Slinger

    Firstly, Frank is one of the most radical, fearless and intelligent politicians around today. It is a shocking indictment that the Labour Party elite saw fit to keep him on the sidelines ever since he was sacked in 1998 for having thought the unthinkable. Just think, if we’d utilised Frank’s talents, it might have been we, the Labour Party, that properly reformed pensions, welfare and poverty policy. Instead, it is left to the Conservatives in Lib Clothing that are the ConDems, with the problems that this may cause for the most vulnerable in society.
    While it’s right to focus attention, money and reform on intervening at the earlies years of a child’s life (as Frank advocates), we must not forget that the lifting up of these young people will be only a Pyhrric victory if we don’t do more to reform the school system so that it ensures people achieve their potential on the basis of their effort rather than their family circumstances (as is all too often the case now). //slingerblog.blogspot.com/2010/12/frank-fields-report-on-poverty-and-life.html

  16. Chris

    @janie_s

    “ad hominem. not interested.”

    Yawn.

    “every immigrant that came here over the last 10 years got a job.”

    No they didn’t, a large number of them were foreign students.

    “they spent the money in the economy which created new jobs.”

    Consumer spending was a key driver of growth but immigrants make up less than 10% of the population. And immigrants are far more likely to send money back home than splash out.

    “exactly the same for coming off benefits.”

    Supply doesn’t make its own demand.

  17. Mike King

    Don’t ignore income when looking at poverty and life chances //ht.ly/3kceR

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