Number of children living in poverty rises by 100,000

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The number of children living in poverty in Britain has increased by 100,000 since Labour came to power, government figures showed yesterday.

The number of children living in poverty in Britain has increased by 100,000 since Labour came to power, government figures showed yesterday.

The second annual "poverty audit" published by the Department of Social Security showed that despite a drop of 250,000 in the number of children living in jobless households there has not been a similar reduction in the number of children living in poverty.

The true extent of pensioner poverty was also revealed in the report, which confirmed that 100,000 more pensioners were also living below the poverty line, with older women particularly vulnerable to poor housing, health and isolation because of the lack of public services.

Children's charities and other organisations accused the Government of giving a false impression of the extent of poverty by playing "pick and mix" with statistics. Martin Barnes, director of the Child Poverty Action Group, said: "There is always a time lag before statistics become available but reporting on progress should be consistent, without playing pick and mix with the statistics. Measures that have been taken and are in the pipeline should lift more than one million children out of income poverty, but the overall impact will take time to assess."

Launching the report, Alistair Darling, Secretary of State for Social Security, defended the Government's policy on poverty and said it was still on track to meet the target of lifting 1.2 million children out of poverty.

The report showed that 1.1 million families are claiming the working families' tax credit and are receiving on average an extra £31 per week.

Mr Darling ruled out any across-the-board increase in the state pension, insisting that such a measure would mean giving the same increase to "Margaret Thatcher, who is now retired, as to those who really need it".

Help the Aged said the report proved Britain's oldest and poorest pensioners are now more desperate than ever. Tessa Harding, head of policy at Help the Aged, said: "Older people have repeatedly asked for a rise in the basic state pension and the restoration of the link with earnings for pension increases. The Government failed to listen and instead has embarked on an approach based on targeting state benefits to the poorest."

Comments