Dickson expresses surprise at child poverty change

Alliance Social Development spokesperson Stewart Dickson MLA has expressed concern at the announcement by the Work and Pensions Secretary that the UK Government is to change the way it measures child poverty.

Iain Duncan Smith stated today (Wednesday) that child poverty will no longer be defined as 60 per cent of the average income but through a series of indicators, including exam results and whether parents are in work.

Stewart Dickson MLA said: “Given the track record of this Government I would be very concerned this is simply an exercise in shifting the goalposts, especially as they were unlikely to meet the targets set for 2020. In fact, since 2010 child poverty has begun to rise again.

“We should be condemning low pay, not the low paid. I strongly support the concept of full employment, but deplore the underemployment, poverty pay and low-skill jobs that so many of our people are trapped in. They have been abandoned by the government in Westminster, so we must act in Northern Ireland to construct the highly-skilled, productive and dynamic labour force to secure prosperity for our children.

“Child poverty will not be eradicated by ignoring the problem, or spinning the statistics. Ultimately in Northern Ireland, we need an all-encompassing strategy to tackle poverty. This includes skills, education, health and social protections. Devolution has provided us with many tools to lessen the harm caused by this unsympathetic and out of touch Tory Government and we must get on with doing it.

“No child should be trapped by the circumstances they are born into. Without having adequate housing, nutrition or the other necessities of life that the welfare state helps to ensure, escaping poverty becomes ever more difficult.”

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