The Coalition will fail to meet its target to eradicate child poverty by 2020, the Government's independent reviewer on social mobility has warned.
Former Labour Cabinet minister Alan Milburn, who was commissioned by ministers to report on progress, warns that child poverty is set to rise if actions are not taken now to stem the problem.
The Blairite ex-health secretary urged the Government not to let the "poorest end up paying the heaviest price" for the austerity Britain was enduring.
He told Radio 4's Today programme: "First of all, progress that was made in the last ten years is stalling as far as child poverty is concerned.
"Worse than that, progress is almost certain to reverse, child poverty is set to rise and, if things go on as they are, it is likely to go on rising for many years to come.
"So in my view, the child poverty targets Labour set and the Coalition have since backed, will simply not be met.
"Now, those are all pretty unpalatable messages but I think in these times of austerity and toughness unless we are clear and honest about what is happening it is very difficult to make progress.
"We know that we are in tough times, the economy is stalling, public expenditure is falling and inequality is probably widening.
"What would be completely wrong in these circumstances is if the poorest ended up paying the heaviest price.
"I think the top priority for government now is to accept that that is what is happening, come clean about the fact that the target that it has adopted will not be met, and to take the action that is necessary to ensure the poorest do not end up paying the heaviest price."