The Group first met on 5 March 1965, at a meeting organised by Harriett C. Wilson. It followed the publication of Brian Abel-Smith and Peter Townsend's work Poor and the Poorest: both men were founding members of the Group.
At the second meeting one of the points raised was "That although increased family allowance might be the simplest and most equitable way of overcoming the poverty of large families, there was likely to be considerable difficulties in bringing about a change of this kind, partly because of the fear that this would tend to encourage people to have large families."
One of its first actions was to send a letter to the Prime Minister, on 22 December 1965, signed by a number of distinguished public figure, which stated:
"The signatories of this letter would probably not all agree on the precise details of a scheme for reform: we are agreed, however, that action should be taken to achieve a radical improvement in the standard of living of families in poverty and we wish to bring this memorandum to your attention. We ask that the present arrangements for family allowances and the allowances for children be reconsidered and revised, and that bigger direct allowances be paid in respect of children in the poorest families."
The stated aims of the CPAG are:
- Raise awareness of the causes, extent, nature and impact of poverty, and strategies for its eradication and prevention;
- Bring about positive policy changes for families with children in poverty;
- Enable those eligible for income maintenance to have access to their full entitlement.
CPAG programmes include: