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a) What are the main causes of child poverty in the UK today?
According to Ridge (2004) these policies fell into three broad areas: support for children, predominately through educational means support for parents, predominately aimed at making work pay, childcare and parenting schemes changes in financial support for children and families via the tax and benefit system.
In order to keep up to speed with such policies, the government committed itself to producing annual poverty reviews entitled Opportunity for All.
These reports outlined actions that would be put into place to assist in the fight against poverty looking in particular at improving literacy and numeracy skills whilst reducing levels of truancy, school exclusions and teenage pregnancies.
Schemes such as Sure Start in England and Wales were introduced.
According to Gordon and Heslop (1999), families with a disabled child are among some of the ‘poorest of the poor’.
Poverty also affects those children living in families where there are adults with disabilities and long-term sickness.The amount a family are entitled too is based on their income. According to Sloman (2007), apart from targeting support at poorer families, both the WTC and CTC are intended to improve incentives to work, by reducing the poverty trap.In simple terms, families are no longer heavily penalised through lost benefits and taxes by working.A survey undertaken by the Department of Work and Pensions in 2002 showed 76% of children in households where illness or disability was present were receiving a key benefit (be it Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, or Income Support) for two or more years (DWP, 2002).Household employment status has also proved to be a major factor of poverty affecting children.Tess Ridge (2004) points out that there are several key factors that serve to make children particularly vulnerable to experiencing poverty.Close to three million children live in lone-parent families and they are particularly at risk of experiencing poverty during their childhood (Rowlingson and Mc Kay, 2002).This figure was reached and to date, there are over 500 centres in operation. Another strategy used by the government to reduce child poverty was the introduction in 2003 of working tax credit (WTC) and child tax credit (CTC).For teenagers aged 16-18, Education Maintenance Allowances were launched in 2004 in order to encourage children from low income families to stay on in education after the school leaving age. WTC is aimed at low-income working families but also designed to entice women such as lone parents into the workplace.This initiative was designed with the aim of giving children the best possible start in life.Gordon Brown (2000) proclaimed the initial goal was to have 250 local programmes in place by 2002.