The European Commission has urged the UK government to invest in measures to prevent poverty, in order to protect children from the worst effects of the economic crisis.
The European Commission said investing in child poverty could stop disadvantage continuing through generations. Image: Becky Nixon
The call from the executive body of the European Union follows the publication of guidance for member countries on how to develop policies that mitigate the negative outcomes of financial instability, such as increasing poverty and unemployment.
The Social Investment Package included a specific recommendation on tackling child poverty, Investing in Children: Breaking the Cycle of Disadvantage, which advises governments to adopt “multi-dimensional” strategies to combat the issue.
“Investing in the fight against child poverty in particular is vital if poverty and social exclusion are not to pass from generation to generation, and people are to have opportunities in later life,” said László Andor, European commissioner responsible for employment, social affairs and inclusion.
“Measures to improve the family's economic situation, such as employment support, and adequate child and family benefits can also prevent the intergenerational poverty trap.
“Good quality childcare and early childhood education have been proven to have a strong positive impact on children's chances of finishing studies and finding employment, and can help children avoid extreme risks like delinquency and drug abuse later on.”
The recommendation suggests that government strategies focus on three areas of child poverty: access to adequate resources, access to affordable quality services and children’s right to participate.
Maggie Jones, chief executive of Children England, said the recommendations, which come as the UK government closes its consultation on measuring child poverty, send a “clear message to member states about the importance of combating child poverty”.
“The UK currently has a widely supported set of income indicators that give a nuanced picture of child poverty levels,” said Jones.
“Rather than wasting time trying to redefine child poverty, the government should focus its energies on reversing or limiting the terrible impact that its austerity measures are having on some of this country’s poorest families.”
Alongside the framework, the commission announced that it will set up an online platform, the European Platform for Investing in Children, to collect and disseminate good child poverty practice from across the EU.
The European Commission intends its Social Investment Package to help countries meet the objectives set out in the Europe 2020 growth strategy, which includes a target that at least 20 million fewer people in the EU will be in or at risk of poverty and social exclusion by 2020.