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Twenty years ago, then Prime Minister Tony Blair pledged to end child poverty in a generation, at a speech in central London.

He called it a “20-year mission”. Two decades and three prime ministers later, BBC Reality Check looks at what has happened to child poverty.

What counts as poverty?

If someone asked you what poverty was, you might think about how far someone’s pay packet goes. Can they afford their household bills? Can they ever go on holiday?

But rather than looking at how someone is making ends meet, the main way poverty is assessed is by using a relative measure – “relative poverty”.

It’s calculated by taking the median income in the country – that’s the midpoint where half of the working population earn more than that amount and half earn less. It was £569 a week in 2018.

Then you take 60% of this middle amount and anyone who earns less than this is considered to be living in relative poverty.

In 1998-99, 34% of children in the UK were living in relative-poverty households.

Today, this proportion is 30%, which represents about 4.1 million children.

Statistics on income after housing costs and benefits received are more widely used as this gives a better idea of how much disposable income someone might have.

But, some say relative poverty is flawed as a measure because the poverty line moves when average income changes.

In times of recession, for example, when lots of people’s wages decrease, relative poverty rates improve.

That’s because the gap between the median and lowest incomes is less but low-income families might not be any better off.

Figures are also published on “absolute” poverty.

Instead of comparing people’s incomes with the average for the current year, these use a fixed year – 2010-11 – to track how many people have been in poverty over an extended period of time. Read more

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