WORK and Pensions Secretary Andrew Smith has highlighted further progress in tackling child poverty.
New figures show 700,000 children have been lifted out of relative income poverty since 1996/97.
On publication of Households Below Average Income (HBAI) 2002/03, Mr Smith said: 'We're determined to win the war on poverty. These figures show we're doing just that - with 200,000 children escaping income poverty in just one year.
'By getting parents into jobs, and then making sure that work pays - through tax credits and the minimum wage - we've put ourselves firmly on track to hit our target of cutting the number of poor children by 25% by 2004/5.'
He added: 'Between 1979 and 1997 the number of poor children more than doubled. Our target to turn this around is hugely ambitious.
'It means making poor children so much better off they actually narrow the gap with average families, whose prosperity has increased rapidly in the last few years.
'The count of the very poorest children - who are living in absolute poverty - has fallen even faster, and has now been halved since 1997. That's 2.1m fewer children growing up with their opportunities undermined by acute financial hardship.'
He added: 'Using the same measure for pensioners, today's figures also show excellent progress, with poverty now down by two-thirds on 1997. That means enhanced dignity and security for 1.8m people during their retirement.
'The gap between the poorest pensioners and the average family is also down - there are now half-a-million fewer pensioners living on relative low income than in 1997.
'Our inheritance of mass poverty means there is still a long way to go. But these figures show our measures have already made a real difference.'