Redisribution by stealth is not enough, said lecturer and researcher Fran Bennett at the Fighting Poverty conference.
The public was not aware of the relative successes the Labour Party had made in tackling child poverty, she told the conference at LSE, and that was holding it back.
Bennett said if the public was not aware that any improvements were being made then it was difficult to win their confidence for child poverty policies.
She argued that the government had to attempt to make the welfare state popular again as Tony Blair had suggested in a speech in 1999.
It had to get the language right around the welfare state, and to challenge public opinion as it had done on health and sexuality issues.
It also had to get the administration of benefits right, and not erode national insurance benefits as this was eroding trust.