Drive to end child poverty

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The Independent Online
GORDON BROWN will make measures to combat child poverty the centrepiece of his next Budget in an attempt to reassure Labour's traditional supporters that the Government has not abandoned them.

Tax and benefit reforms to "make work pay" for jobless people will be outlined by the Chancellor when he unveils his draft Budget in November, ahead of the Budget in March. They are expected to include an extension of the "new deal" programme for the jobless.

The Government says that its measures have already lifted 800,000 children out of poverty and Mr Brown will today announce a new target of raising the figure to one million by next year.

His pledge is part of a concerted fightback by ministers under the slogan "New Labour's Working," an echo of the 1979 Tory slogan "Labour Isn't Working" showing a long dole queue.

He will promise that action to boost the life prospects of poor children will be at the top of the Government's agenda when he meets anti-poverty campaigners, experts and academics.

"Child poverty is a scar on the soul of Britain," Mr Brown will say in a speech to anti-poverty campaigners, experts and academics. "We will help families who try hard to help themselves, are good citizens and responsible parents but who, without a platform of opportunity from which to succeed, are today denied the chance to realise the potential they are born with."

Mr Brown will say that the new target will be the first milestone on the road to achieving Tony Blair's pledge to eliminate child poverty in 20 years.

The Chancellor plans to provide job opportunities, extra cash help for families and reduce "in-work poverty"; improve public services; make all schools as good as the best; and mobilise voluntary and community action.

But his approach will be criticised at an important conference on Labour's direction on Saturday. The former cabinet minister Baroness Castle of Blackburn will accuse the Government of extending means-testing when she speaks about the event at a press conference today.

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