Headlines: December 9th, 2008

The latest figures from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation show that progress in reducing poverty and social exclusion made from 1997 to 2003 has now stalled. Although some of the 56 indicators show an improvement, the great majority do not.

From 1997 to 2003, 30 out of 56 measures improved, with 7 worsening. By contrast, from 2003 to the latest available data, 14 improved while 15 worsened.

The Government’s target to reduce child poverty is threatened according to the new figures. The number of children living in low-income households has failed to decline and remains broadly at 2003 levels. There has been a fall of some 500,000 since the 1997 baseline, but to reach the target the reduction should be double this figure.

Other measures relating to low income have also hit the buffers. They include social security, the value of out-of-work benefits for pensioners, and for families with dependent children, relative to earnings. These measures have not fallen since 2004.The situation is more serious for adults in low-income working families and working families needing tax credits to avoid low income, where a period of earlier stagnation has now become a decline.

Improvements in education have also stalled. There has been no improvement since 2000 in the number of children permanently excluded from school and 16-year-olds who fail to get five or more GCSEs at any level.

Despite the fall in the numbers of recorded crimes the number of adults worried about being a victim of burglary or violent crime has not declined since 2003.

The figures show that of the 56 measures only 5 have improved. They include those aged 60 and over who feel very unsafe going out alone at night and households newly recognised as homeless.