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The welfare we want?The British challenge for American reform$
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Robert Walker and Michael Wiseman

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9781861344083

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781861344083.001.0001

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Eradicating child poverty in Britain: welfare reform and children since 1997

Eradicating child poverty in Britain: welfare reform and children since 1997

(p.81) Four Eradicating child poverty in Britain: welfare reform and children since 1997
The welfare we want?

Mike Brewer

Paul Gregg

Policy Press

Over the last 20 years, children have been the poorest group in UK society. The government set itself a short-term target to reduce child poverty by a quarter of its 1998 level by 2004. However, the use of a poverty measure based on relative income has disadvantages that are well recognized by the government. This chapter discusses the government's motivation to reduce child poverty, what the government means when it talks about child poverty, and the welfare reform strategy developed to achieve it. The government's reform package aims to reduce child poverty not only through increases in child-specific financial support, but also through reductions in the numbers of children in workless households, particularly lone-parent households. The chapter explores what effect the reform package has had on the number of children in poverty; overall financial support for families with children; and marginal deduction rates and overall returns to work, and whether the incentives embodied in the reforms are, in fact, changing behaviour, i.e. increasing employment among lone parents. Finally, it discusses what are seen as the strengths and weaknesses of the Labour programme.

Keywords:   welfare reform, children, UK, poverty, lone-parent households, employment, Labour programme

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