There appears to be a lot to be said in principle for the child poverty target. When it was passed into law it was the product of cross-party agreement. Many policies chop and change – and this sort of rare consensus could mean a more consistent approach. It was long-term – it intended to set policy direction not just for one Parliament but for two or three, with an objective to eliminate child poverty by 2020. It was joined up – no one department can solve child poverty on its own. Unlike many government objectives, the target it set was measurable. And, behavioural economics tells us that commitment devices can be very powerful drivers of behaviour. Giving a target the force of law looks like quite a good way of doing that. So what’s not to like? In reality, there are a number of worrying features about the child poverty target, and legislated policy targets more generally, as we set out in our report, which was based on a private roundtable held at the Institute in the summer of 2012. Although participants saw advantages in a policy target in terms of internal and external signalling, and as a way of […]

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