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The government has failed to meet its target for reducing child poverty, official figures published today reveal. T...
The government has failed to meet its target for reducing child poverty, official figures published today reveal. The figures, which give a snap shot of child poverty before the last election, reveal that child poverty fell by only 500,000 between 1996/97 and 2000/01. This is against the measure of poverty which the government has consistently used in setting its targets.

The government claimed that it had lifted 1.2 million children out of poverty in its first term.

The Child Poverty Action Group has described the figures as deeply disappointing and has criticised the Government for presenting, at the last election, a forecast of a reduction of child poverty as a proven fact.

The director of the Child Poverty Action Group, Martin Barnes, said:

'Today's figures show that the reduction in child poverty was substantially less than was claimed before last year's election.

'Measuring poverty is not an exact size - the government was wrong to have presented a prediction as a proven fact. When Tony Blair pledged to eradicate child poverty the government very firmly nailed its colours to the Household Below Average Incomes measure. If the government now moves the goalposts in using a different measure of poverty, its risks losing credibility.

'The figures are very disappointing and underscore the need for more to be done to tackle income poverty.

'The chancellor must put the reduction of child poverty at the centre of next week's Budget. The government's pledge to lift one million children out of poverty within the next three years can only be achieved by significantly improving the incomes of low-income families.

'The new child tax credit, due next year, can be the vehicle to ending child poverty. Lifting one million children out of poverty will require additional support for families of over£5bn a year.'

In 1996/97 4.4 million children were living in poverty after housing costs - today's figures show that 3.9 million children were living in poverty in 2000/01.

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