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Inquiry launched to combat child poverty amid free school meal scandal

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An inquiry has been launched to look at what steps are necessary to reduce child poverty, following this week’s debacle surrounding ‘woefully inadequate’ food provisions for vulnerable families.

The influential Work and Pensions Committee has launched an inquiry to examine the government’s approach to addressing and reducing the growing number of children living in poverty.

It comes as figures before the pandemic revealed more than four million children were impacted by poverty and now, this number is likely to swell.

The inquiry also comes in the same week that a private catering company was slammed by parents, campaigners and the government over its ‘£30 food parcel’. Its ‘woefully inadequate’ provisions to last 10 days barely broke the £5 mark leading to an outcry and investigation.

The committee said its initial focus will be on the best way to measure child poverty and how the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) works with other government departments and local authorities to reduce the number of young people living in poverty.

It will also look at how well the social security system is working for children, the experiences of families with no recourse to public funds, and support for working parents and separated families.

‘Ensure all young people have a decent start in life’

Stephen Timms MP, chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, said: “With millions of children living in families struggling to get by, child poverty was blighting the prospects of young people even before the pandemic started to take its toll. Sadly, we know the events of the last year will only have made things worse for many families and are likely to have plunged many more children into poverty.

“Decisions and policies on everything from education through to social security affect the lives of children, so our new inquiry will be wide-ranging and look across the board at all aspects of the government’s approach to tackling child poverty.”

He added: “The first step to tackling any problem must be to ensure there is a clear picture of the issue. Sadly, the government has put valuable work on measuring poverty on the back burner. Without agreed measures of poverty, there can be no sensible strategy for tackling it and any policies will be little more than a stab in the dark.

“With the pandemic shining a new light on the day-to-day difficulties faced by many children, there is now a unique opportunity to build a consensus around a renewed push to tackle the scourge of child poverty. Our committee will push the government to ensure all young people have a decent start in life.”

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