Here are 4 immediate steps government could take to lift a million children out of poverty

The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has however set out 4 immediate steps that can be taken that will lift at least a million children out of poverty

Children living in poverty

With general election campaigns in full swing, anti-poverty campaigners are doing all they can to push tackling poverty and destitution high up on the political agenda.

Despite being the sixth-largest economy in the world, 4 million children in the UK are living in poverty, a fact which shames us as a country. And yet despite the devastating consequences child poverty has on the lives of children and their families, the Tories had no plan to tackle child poverty in their manifesto yesterday.

The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has however set out 4 immediate steps that can be taken that will lift at least a million children out of poverty. Here are the four steps:

1)Scrap the two-child limit

The two-child benefit cap prevents parents from claiming child tax credit or universal credit for any third or subsequent child born after April 2017. It was introduced by the former chancellor George Osborne in his austerity drive with the aim of encouraging parents of larger families to find a job or work more hours.

Charities and anti-poverty campaigners have over the years highlighted how the cruel and unfair policy has pushed thousands of children into poverty. Ending the two-child benefit cap would lift 250,000 children out of poverty, and lessen the effects of poverty on a further 850,000, according to the Child Poverty Action Group.

2) Scrap the Benefit Cap

The Benefit Cap is a limit to the total amount in some benefits that working age people can receive, even if their full entitlement would otherwise be higher.

Ten years since the benefit cap was introduced across Britain, new research shows families affected by the policy have as little as £44 a week to live on after they’ve paid housing costs.

The research, from Child Poverty Action Group shows in the ten years since the policy was introduced, the number of families affected by it has grown substantially as benefits have risen, albeit by less than inflation, while the cap has stayed frozen for the best part of a decade.

The charity has called for the cap to be scrapped.

3) Give Free School meals to all pupils

The Child Poverty Action Group is also calling for universal free school meals to help tackle child poverty, with the eligibility criteria for free school meals so low that hundreds of thousands of children living in poverty are missing out.

New analysis from the charity last week revealed that 900,000 children in poverty are not eligible for free school meals (FSM) because the qualifying criteria is so restrictive.

The charity has called on all political parties to make universal free school meals a priority pledge in their election manifestos – to relieve pressure on household budgets and ensure every child has the food they need to learn and thrive.

4) Increase child benefit by £20 a week

The current rate of child benefit is not enough to help those struggling in poverty and the CPAG says that increasing child benefit would further reduce poverty.

CPAG estimates that increasing child benefit by £20 a week would pull 500,000 children out of poverty across the UK, at a cost of £10 billion.

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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