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Addiction fuels child poverty

Having a parent addicted to drugs or alcohol is the most important factor in determining child poverty, a UK Government-commissioned poll suggests.

The survey will be highlighted by Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, in a speech on the subject when he will argue that for too long governments have chased income-based poverty targets.

“We need to focus on life change, so that families are able to sustain the improvement in their lives beyond government money. This is nowhere better illustrated than in families suffering parental addiction.”

The poll shows 90% of respondents said the most important factor determining child poverty was having a parent addicted to drugs or alcohol; 81% said living in a damp or cold home; 80% said having to care for a parent; 79% said not having enough money; 68% said family breakdown and 64% said a failing school.

The Secretary of State said: “For a poor family where the parents are suffering from addiction, giving them an extra pound in benefits might officially move them over the poverty line but increased income from welfare transfers will not address the reason they find themselves in difficulty in the first place.”

Relative poverty is defined as 60% of the median income.

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