Labour is 'burying bad news' of poverty study until after elections

The Government has been accused of trying to bury bad news after delaying the publication of its annual poverty statistics until after the local elections next month.

The figures, normally issued in March, will be disclosed on 2 May, the day after local authority elections in England and Wales, The Independent can reveal. Many results, including the contest for London Mayor, will not be announced until 2 May and they are likely to dominate media coverage, swamping the poverty figures.

Independent experts expect the statistics to show Labour is in danger of missing its flagship target of halving child poverty by 2010 and abolish it by 2020.

The Chancellor Alistair Darling announced plans to lift a further 250,000 children out of the poverty net in last month's Budget, on top of the 600,000 taken out since 1997 but forecasters predict it will not be enough get Labour back on track.

Chris Grayling, the shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said last night: "With this Government's dismal record of trying to bury bad news, you'd think it would know better. There's something deeply cynical and unsavoury about pushing back the release of this information.

"The reality behind Labour's spin is that child poverty is rising, despite its boasts. What has the Government got to hide? The data should be released now."

Ministers deny the figures, to be issued by the Office for National Statistics, are being held back for party political reasons. They argue they were delayed from last month because of the need for "additional validation and quality assurance." They say the figures would never be published during a local election campaign, when Whitehall goes into "purdah".

A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions said: "We want to make absolutely sure the statistics are completely reliable and correct. On that basis, it is taking a bit longer than it would have done previously. We want to publish as early as we possibly can. It will be ready to go from 2 May. That is the date agreed."

The announcement will include the number of households below average income and the incomes of pensioners and families. Research by the respected Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) suggests the figures will show child poverty and inequality are rising, while disposable incomes are falling. It believes the increases in benefits and tax credits in the 2006-07 financial year were not generous, leading to falls or very small rises for couples with children and lone parents.

In a report for Help the Aged, the IFS forecast a rise in pensioner poverty in 2006-07, mostly because the level of winter fuel allowances in 2005 was not repeated in 2006.

Yesterday, the Tories claimed that 5.3 million low paid families would lose up to £446 a year under Gordon Brown's decision in his final Budget last year to abolish the 10p lower rate of income tax. That takes effect this week. The Tories said one in five families would be affected, even when tax credits are taken into account.

The IFS estimates the losers will include 2.2 million single working people with no children; 1.2 million two-earner couples with no children; 700,000 two-earner couples with children; 500,000 non-workers; 400,000 one-earner couples without children and 300,000 women aged 60-64.

Ministers say many people will benefit from the reduction in the basic rate of income tax from 22p to 20p in the pound, which was also part of last year's Budget. But some Labour MPs have expressed concern about how to "sell" the abolition of the 10p rate in their constituencies.

VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Homer meets Lego Marge in the 25th anniversary episode of The Simpsons, set to air on 4 May
tv
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatreReview: Of Mice and Men, Longacre Theatre
Life & Style
Infant child breast-feeding with eyes closed
healthTo stop mummy having any more babies, according to scientists
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Arts & Entertainment
film
Sport
Vito Mannone fails to keep out Samir Nasri's late strike
sportMan City 2 Sunderland 2: Goalkeeping howler allows Man City to scrap a draw – but Premier League title is Liverpool's to lose
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey gets the North Korean leader's look
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
Life & Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 63rd anniversary of the Peak District National Park
tech
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
Life & Style
Michael Acton Smith founded Firebox straight out of university before creating Moshi Monsters
techHe started out selling silliness with online retailer Firebox, before launching virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Energy Consultant – Building Management

up to £45,000 + benefits: The Green Recruitment Company: Our Client The Green ...

Senior Industrial Energy Consultant

Up to £45,000 + benefits: The Green Recruitment Company: Our Client The Green ...

Mechanical Building Services Energy Engineer

up to £45K basic + benefits: The Green Recruitment Company: Our Client The Gr...

Building Services Energy Engineer

up to £45K basic + benefits: The Green Recruitment Company: Our Client The Gr...

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal