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Child poverty fight hit by spending cuts - OECD

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Progress on tackling child poverty in Britain has stalled and social spending on families needs to be protected, experts have warned.

Cuts already announced will affect many families, said the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Paris-based international thinktank of largely developed nations.

Between 2003 and 2007, the UK strengthened its position as one of the biggest investors in families among developed countries, the authors of a new report, Doing Better for Families, say.

“Early-years spending rose substantially, driven by new cash supports for children around birth and increased investment on childcare services,” one of the authors, Dominic Richardson said.

In 2007 the UK spent more on children than most OECD countries, at just over £138,000 per child from birth up to the age of 18, against an OECD average of just under £95,000.

Before the financial crisis, and during a period of increased investment (1995 to 2005), child poverty in the UK fell more than in any other OECD country. In 2005 it was 10.5%, down from 17.4% in 1995, compared to an OECD average of 12.7%.

In the same period the growth in average family income was third highest in the OECD.

Mr Richardson said: “Progress in child poverty reduction in the UK has stalled… and so social protection spending on families - particularly via family service provisions, as a longer-term solution to poverty risks - needs to be protected.”

He added that childcare costs can remain a barrier to work for better off parents, adding: “There is room in UK policy for an effective childcare supplement for working parents.”

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