Downing Street has insisted the government is committed to reducing poverty, after it was revealed it had abolished its child poverty unit.
Ministers admitted today its responsibilities had been transferred to the Department for Work and Pensions following a written parliamentary question from Labour MP Dan Jarvis.
The unit was set up in 2007 as a joint Whitehall operation under the Department for Work and Pensions, the Department of Education and the Treasury.
Jarvis will lead a Commons debate today on the the revelation the unit has been scrapped.
Writing in The Times today, he said: “No child in Britain in 2016 should grow up in poverty. It means a child is more likely to fall behind in school, less likely to secure a stable job in the future, and more likely to suffer from ill health in later life.
“We should judge this government by its actions, not its rhetoric. If the Prime Minister’s words on the steps of Downing Street mean anything, then they have to support a target to lift children out of poverty.”
A spokesperson for Theresa May said the work of the child poverty unit goes on “across government” and added: “there’s absolutely no reduction in government commitment to tackling poverty.”
In March, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) warned benefit cuts will lead to more than 2.6 million British children living in poverty by 2020.
In his response to Jarvis, work and pensions minister Damian Hinds said May was “clear that tackling poverty and disadvantage and delivering real social reform, is a priority for this Government”.
“The Department for Work and Pensions is leading work across Government to bring forward a social justice green paper in the New Year which will identify and address the root causes of poverty, building upon the two statutory indicators set out in the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016,” he said.