The Labour Party has criticised the Conservative Party after Esther McVey, a minister in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was forced to admit in the House of Commons today that the Benefit Uprating Bill announced by the government will push another 200,000 children into poverty.
Ms McVey answered a parliamentary question today and said that “the uprating measures in 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 will result in around an extra 200,000 children being deemed by this measure to be in relative income poverty compared to uprating benefits by CPI”.
Labour cited both the Prime Minister, David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith’s comments when they were in opposition as evidence that they had backtracked over claims previously made.
They found a quote from David Cameron made to the BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme in November 2006 where Mr Cameron said: “I think the best way to define it is as the figures do, that if you have less than 60% of the average household income you are relatively poor, and I think that is the right measure and I think it’s right to look at relative poverty and that’s what a Conservative government would do.”
Labour Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls said: “While they give the richest two per cent of earners a £3 billion tax cut, 200,000 children will be pushed into poverty and millions of working families made worse off.”
The cuts imposed by the government to social security benefits and tax credits which are to be increased at a lower rate than inflation, just one per cent, will means that 200,000 more children will be classified as being in poverty by the relative income measure.
Family Action Head of Policy and Campaigns Rhian Beynon said that the policy is a further blow to families, many of whom are in part-time work and want extra hours.
She said: “We know from the parents we support that are in work how much they struggle to provide for their families. Some who are working part time want to work extra hours to lift themselves out of poverty but the jobs aren't there. The Government should abandon this regressive Bill."
Alison Garnham, Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group, said: "The government's child poverty strategy is in utter disarray now that Ministers have admitted the poverty-producing Welfare Benefits Uprating Bill will push 200,000 more children into poverty. This means in total Coalition policies are set to push a million more children into poverty by 2020. The figures showing the impact on absolute poverty have not been published.
"Short term spending cuts that create poverty will end up costing taxpayers billions in the future and inflict huge damage on children and our economy."
A DWP Spokesperson said: “Even with plans to limit increases to benefits, people will still see their benefits go up year on year – there is no freeze in support. And Universal Credit will make 3 million households better off."
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