Downturn will wipe out Labour's anti-poverty gains

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Indy Politics

The economic downturn threatens to wipe out a decade of Labour attempts to tackle poverty, researchers will warn today. The recession could eliminate gains in employment levels within a year and send targets for tackling child poverty "out of the window," they said.

The authors of the report published today by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation said the Government's efforts to get the jobless into work could flounder if there are no vacancies to fill.

The foundation's 10-year study of the Government's anti-poverty drive will be published as ministers press ahead with plans to force "virtually everyone" on benefits to work or join training courses in return for their payments.

James Purnell, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, will outline reforms in a White Paper due later this week which will include moves to force people with disabilities or long-term illnesses to seek training or work experience and to make single mothers with children as young as one take the first steps back into the world of work.

But with some estimates showing unemployment rising as high as 3.5 million, researchers warned that efforts to cut poverty would be undermined.