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Policy Report on Eradicating Child Poverty: The Introduction of Social Exclusion and The Children's Fund

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Policy Report on Eradicating Child Poverty: The Introduction of Social Exclusion and The Children's Fund

Policy Report on Eradicating Child Poverty: The Introduction of Social Exclusion and the Children's Fund.

This piece of work will try to discuss the underlying principles of New Labour's pledge of eradicating child poverty by 2020. However due to a whole raft of proposals that have since been developed, the essay will look at the Children's Fund (CF) as one of the measures introduced in tackling Childhood poverty, by identifying children and young people at greater risk of social exclusion. The essay will incorporate an overview of the CF, whilst trying to look in greater detail as to why social exclusion was a high priority for New Labour. The essay will also incorporate the notion that New Labour regard Children as an ‘investment' that needs to nurtured into future working citizens, thus creating the next generation into full active citizens contributing to the economy, rather than recipients of welfare.

New Labour came to power on May 1st 1997 under the leadership of Tony Blair, Levitas (1998) discusses that almost immediately, he spoke on how he envisaged a renewed Britain, where every citizen would unite and share values and the vision was to ensure that no citizen would be excluded. Later in 1999, at the ‘Beveridge Revisited' lecture, he spoke on how the welfare reforms would give ‘all' children the support they would need to break the cycle of deprivation and stressed the importance of ‘investing in our children' Platt (2005:115-118). It was at this time he spoke of the need to eradicate Child poverty within twenty years. New Labour had inherited an economy from the Thatcher/Major regime of which according to Featherstone (2004:88) was modest and lacked willingness in relation to family support. The Thatcher regime did not portray the traditional government concerned with traditional family values, ‘despite the rhetoric and the presence of diverse pro-family pressure groups', it failed to paint ‘a picture of a conservatism centrally concerned with the family and traditional values', and was even more bleak under John Major. According to Fox-Harding (1999) cited in Featherstone (2004) the mixed message shows a conflict of right wing ideology from ‘economic liberalist and traditional authoritarian conservatives' regarding the family values approach and the ideology of the right.

According to Scott, Campbell & Brown (2002), New Labour whilst addressing the idea of poverty, prefer to use the term ‘social exclusion' as the rationale to understanding the process, of enabling every citizen the opportunity to partake within society ,denied services or experience social and economic isolation, thus making all citizens ‘socially included'. The Government has defined social exclusion as "when individuals or areas suffer from a combination of linked problems such as unemployment, poor skills, low incomes, poor housing, high crime environments, bad health and family breakdown." but also social exclusion can have a wider meaning "which encompasses the exclusion of people from the normal exchanges, practices and rights of society' (Neighbourhood Renewal 2007)

Levitas (1996:7) argues that the terminology of social exclusion and the way it is currently used ‘absolutely obscures the question of material inequality it was originally intended to illuminate', suggesting that the notion of the poor being socially excluded became popular in the UK during the 60's and 70's due to research carried out by Townsend (1979) that there was a ‘level of income below which people were unable to participate in the normal life of the society with which they were supposedly a part' as cited in Levitas, (1996:7). In her discussion, she regards Townsend as a major player in highlighting the existence of ‘relative poverty' as a lack of material resources, and by re-introducing the notion of poverty back into political debate. Levitas (1996) expands by claiming that the connection between social exclusion and the roots of unequal distribution of wealth commented on by Townsend has been obscured, "The link made here is centrally between exclusion and unemployment, not primarily exclusion and poverty" ibid (1996:8). Individuals are seen as being socially excluded as a result of their lack of participation within the job market. Furthermore, she re-iterates that the overall aim of social policy should be to re-integrate individuals who experience social exclusion by means of paid employment. She argues that she fundamentally believes that social exclusion is caused by poverty, and by simply attaching people to the labour market does not provide long term solutions, for example low paid workers do not necessarily participate within society due to a lack of disposable income, thus they are not socially included, she concludes by explaining

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