Brown 'to lift extra million children from poverty'

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The Independent Online

Labour's manifesto for the next general election will promise to remove another one million children from poverty, Gordon Brown announced yesterday.

The Chancellor, who has already promised that a million children will be lifted out of poverty in the current Parliament, extended the pledge yesterday. The move forms part of Labour's commitment to halve the number of children growing up in poor families within 10 years and eradicate child poverty in 20 years.

Addressing a Child Poverty Action Group conference in London, Mr Brown gave the first estimates of the extra money he would provide for families when a new system starts in 2003. The new integrated child credit will replace the existing children's tax credit, income support payments for children and the working families tax credit.

The Chancellor said that, if the scheme were operating now, the payments for each child would rise from between £11.05 and £15 under the current system to between £28 and £50.

The new payment would be made to the main carer and would be complemented for those in work by an employment tax credit paid through the wage packet.

Mr Brown sought to squash speculation that he might use the system as a backdoor method to tax child benefit for the better-off. He insisted the new means-tested credit would be paid "on top of child benefit".

Mapping out Labour's long-term agenda on welfare, he said it would consider housing costs for the low paid; the way housing benefit interacts with the tax and benefit system; and poverty among larger families and in those with only one part-time worker.

An estimated four million young people live in poverty today and he promised a five-point plan including: extra cash support; a national childcare strategy; more investment in education; help for the poorest communities; and a new alliance of central and local government and voluntary groups.