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Class and Child Poverty Action Group call for new priorities to tackle poverty


EMBARGOED UNTIL 0:00 13 March 2013


Class and Child Poverty Action Group call for new priorities to tackle poverty

Today the Centre of Labour and Social Studies (Class) in association with Child Poverty Action Group launch a new policy paper "Abolishing Want in a Social State."

This paper is written by Kate Bell and was commissioned as part of the Social State series to address the Giant Evil of 'want' and propose new policy priorities for tackling poverty in 2015 Britain.

Beveridge's 1942 Report was first and foremost a plan for the abolition of want. Yet want, in the form of poverty, has proved far from easy to abolish. This paper attempts to understand why, 70 years after the Beveridge Report, poverty continues to be so prevalent and will attempt to suggest what a renewed attack on want might look like.

The author of the paper is Kate Bell who is the London Campaign Co-ordinator at Child Poverty Action Group. She looks at both the history of UK policy and internationally. The paper shows that:

  • There is nothing inevitable about poverty and efforts to reduce poverty have been successful internationally and in the UK; over the last decade the number of pensioners and children in poverty fell by over a million.
  • Internationally, evidence suggests that the countries that are most effective in reducing poverty combine universalist welfare systems with high levels of employment; in countries with low child poverty rates, maternal employment is particularly important.
  • Efforts to tackle poverty in the UK need to focus on increasing maternal employment, tackling in work poverty, including through tackling high housing costs, and increasing the value of universal benefits, such as child benefit, over time.
  • The largest group affected by poverty in the UK is couples with children, and more than half of all those in poverty are in paid work. Campaigns to tackle poverty need to make clear that this is not a minority issue affecting a marginalised group of people, but one that affects a group that many identify with.

On release of the paper Alison Garnham Chief Executive from Child Poverty Action Group said:

"The giant evil of want which Beveridge identified years ago is casting a growing shadow over families today, so we very much welcome this Class project on the future of the welfare state.

"There is, of course, no 'silver bullet' to end child poverty but the evidence of what can work is compelling and should drive action in priority areas like maternal employment, in-work poverty and adequate benefit levels. There are few bigger challenges facing our society than protecting our children from poverty, and the damage that it does to their childhoods, their life chances and more widely to our society and the strength of our economy."


Notes to Editors:

1. The Centre for Labour and Social Studies (Class) is a new think tank established in 2012 by Unite the Union, GMB and the Institute of Employment Rights to act as a centre for left debate and discussion and has the growing support of a number of trade Unions including PCS, ASLEF, CWU, TSSA, UCATT and GFTU. Originating in the labour movement, Class is working with a broad coalition of supporters, academics and experts to develop and advance alternative policies for today.

2. A Social State for 2015 is the first high-profile project launched by Class. More information and a collection of blog articles can be found here: .

3. Kate Bell is the author of Abolishing Want in a Social State is the Campaign Co-ordinator  Child Poverty Action Group, and also undertakes freelance policy work. Prior to that she was Director of Policy, Advice and Communications at the single parent charity Gingerbread.

4. A panel discussion, Achieving a Social State will be held in association with LSE British Politics and Policy Blog. It takes place on Wednesday 13 March 6:30pm at Room NAB.LG.01, New Academic Building, LSE, 54 Lincoln's Inn Field, London WC2A 3LJ.

Panellists include:

• Chair: Dr Robin Archer, LSE
• Kate Bell, Child Poverty Action Group
• Duncan Bowie, University of Westminster
• Howard Reed, Landman Economics
• Zoe Williams, The Guardian

For media accreditation or more information please email

5. Papers to be issued in the “A Social State for 2015” include:

• Achieving a Social State and redefining Beveridge’s Giant Evils - Zoe Williams
• Tackling squalor: The pivotal role of social housing - Duncan Bowie
• Abolishing want in a Social State- Kate Bell (produced in association with Child Poverty  Action Group).
• Financing a Social State: Progressive taxation and the pursuit of full employment - Richard Murphy and Howard Reed
• Education policy for a new Social State settlement
• The last safety net? Putting health and the NHS centre-stage in a Social State - Prof Allyson Pollock and David Price
• The new Giant Evil of disunity: How collectivism and solidarity are fundamental to achieving the Social State - Prof Keith Ewing

More information
For further information, articles, interviews or media requests please contact Anneliese Midgley on or 020 7611 2570

Twitter: @classthinktank