General election 2019: Child poverty 'could rise' under Conservative plans

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Child poverty risks reaching a record high under the Conservative Party’s plans for benefits, according to a new report by the Resolution Foundation.

The Conservative election manifesto does not propose changes to existing benefit policy, the think tank said.

It found, as a result, relative child poverty could reach a 60-year high of 34% by 2023-4.

A Tory spokesman said there were 750,000 fewer children in poverty since the party came into government.

The foundation said none of the three main UK party manifestos would reduce child poverty from its current rate of 29.6% by 2023-4.

Under Labour’s plans, which include around £9bn of extra social security spending, the foundation forecast there would be some 550,000 fewer children in poverty compared to Conservative plans.

Labour’s plans would reduce child poverty to around 30.2% in 2023-4.

That figure under Lib Dems’ plans, meanwhile, would be 29.7% in 2023-4.

Their social security pledges are slightly more progressive than Labour’s and would see 600,000 fewer children in poverty than there would be under Conservative plans, the foundation said.

“However, this would not do enough to see child poverty fall from today’s already high levels,” the Resolution Foundation’s Laura Gardiner said.

If the Conservatives proceed with the current benefits policy, the foundation’s research suggested child poverty would rise from 29.6% in 2017-18 to 34.4% – a 60-year high – in 2023-4.

Ms Gardiner added: “Policy choices since 2010 have reduced the generosity of support for working age families by £34bn.

“Against the backdrop of major cuts, the parties’ manifestos do offer big choices on social security.”

The foundation defined relative child poverty as those living in households with incomes below 60% of the median in a given year.

In 2017-18, that figure was £304 a week, according to the Department for Work and Pensions.

Tackling root cause

Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: “Our reforms to social security, including scrapping Universal Credit, the Two-Child Limit and the Benefit Cap, will stop child poverty increasing, as this report rightly acknowledges.”

He added that other pledges would seek to tackle the root cause of child poverty, including free school meals for all primary school pupils and an expansion of free childcare.

A Conservative spokesman defended the Tories’ actions on tackling poverty.

“We are committed to tackling child poverty and have made progress since we came into government, with 730,000 fewer children in workless households,” he told the Guardian newspaper.

“But we know we must continue to make every effort on this issue and our manifesto sets out how we will use the tax and benefits system to do this.

“The prime minister has committed to giving every child in the country the opportunities to make the most of their talents.”


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