Grant awarded to study history of CPAG 1965-2015

Professor Pat Thane of the Institute of Contemporary British History has been awarded an AHRC grant to write a history of the first fifty years of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), 1965-2015.

CPAG was founded in 1965 to alert politicians and public to the surprgly high levels of child poverty found in the research of Brian Abel-Smith and Peter Townsend, and to work with government on policies to alleviate this. The project will look at how they set about meeting these objectives, how successful they have been and how CPAG was funded. The 1960s saw the emergence of a new wave of radical, media-aware, NGOs, and this study will shed light on this new wave and its links with 1960s radicalism, along with their relative professionalism compared with some older NGOs. The study will examine how CPAG’s sources of support, objectives and strategies changed over time and evaluate the outcomes. Its significance will lie in contributing to the growing body of work which is increasing our understanding of the considerable extent, roles and importance of voluntary action in British society in the recent past.

The project has already begun with a small grant from the British Academy, and the AHRC funding will enable its completion. Outputs will include a short accessible survey of the project’s findings, and a scholarly study of CPAG’s history.

Professor Thane is a leading historian of the politics and social context of social welfare, and her wide range of publications includes studies of old age and ageing, gender, unmarried motherhood, and the history of voluntary action and its contemporary relationship with state welfare. Her recent publications include Reassessing 1970s Britain (co-edited with Lawrence Black and Hugh Pemberton, 2013) and Sinners? Scroungers? Saints? Unmarried Motherhood in Twentieth Century Britain (with Tanya Evans, 2012).

ICBH has held three witness seminars on the history of the Child Poverty Action Group:

The Formation of the Child Poverty Action Group in the 1960s (held 1993, published Contemporary Record 9:3, 1995);

‘The Poor Get Poorer Under Labour’: the validity and effects of CPAG’s campaign in the 1970s (held 2000, published ICBH 2003 – available on its website by clicking this link);

CPAG in the 1980s (held January 2015; to be published summer 2015).

For more information on the project please email

Several of this blog’s readers were active in CPAG. Please consider contacting Pat Thane, and letting others you are still in contact with know.

About seancreighton1947

Since moving to Norbury in July 2011 I have been active on local economy issues with Croydon TUC and Croydon Assembly, and am a member of the latter's Environment Forum. I am a member of the 5 Norbury Residents Associations Joint Planning Committee, and a Governor of Norbury Manor Primary School. I write for Croydon Citizen at I co-ordinate the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History Networks and advise the North East People's History Project.. I give history talks and lead history walks. I retired in 2012 having worked in the community/voluntary sector and on heritage projects. My history interests include labour movement, mutuality, Black British, slavery & abolition, Edwardian roller skating and the social and political use of music and song. I have a particular interest in the histories of Battersea and Wandsworth, Croydon and Lambeth. I have a publishing imprint History & Social Action Publications.
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