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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 December 2006, 11:10 GMT
A commitment to families...
Jim Murphy, Minister for Welfare reform
No government has done more than this one to utilise the resources and expertise of the voluntary sector
Jim Murphy, Minister for Welfare reform

Britain has become stronger and fairer under Labour over the last 10 years - we have moved on from the days of deprivation, crumbling public services and economic uncertainty which held people back under successive Conservative governments.

The legacy of poverty we inherited in 1997 was appalling.

Child poverty had more than doubled over the previous 18 years and Britain had the worst child poverty rate in Europe. One in five families had no-one in work and one in three children were growing up in poverty.

In the first term of this Labour government, Tony Blair set an historic target to eradicate child poverty by 2020, a target to which the Tories still refuse to sign up to.

Person sleeping rough
Labour claim that fewer people experience severe poverty now

Compared to 1997, there are now 700,000 fewer children and a million fewer pensioners in relative poverty.

Commitment to families

There are 2.5 million more people in work and families are on average 1,500 better off since the Labour government came to power, with poorest families 3,400 better off.

The progress we have made so far is not accidental.

It has been the result of our commitment to invest in support for families and new measures to make work pay- tax credits, the national minimum wage and the New Deal.

Those changes have brought real improvements to people's lives, but have been consistently opposed by the Conservatives.

Far from learning the lessons of their failures in the 80s and 90s that devastated hardworking families, the Tories under David Cameron seem determined to repeat them.

Job Centre
A destination for fewer people under Labour?

Warm words about social justice are worse than meaningless when they are committed to billions of pounds worth of cuts in support for families, which will lead to substantially more children growing up in poverty.

The Third Sector

No government has done more than this one to utilise the expertise of the voluntary sector and we are determined to break down the barriers that charities can sometimes experience when working with government.

To champion that cause across government we have established the Office of the Third Sector.

In my department, we are currently taking the welfare reform bill through Parliament, which will enable a greater role for private and voluntary sector organisations dedicated to helping people off benefit dependency and back to work.

Of course we can do more to eradicate poverty and establish an ever closer partnership with the voluntary sector.

However the Tory approach set out by Iain Duncan Smith would cut off the opportunity for partnership by cutting public investment in the fight against deprivation and abdicating the government's responsibility to help people lift themselves out of poverty.

Oxfam shop
Could barriers be broken down between charities and government

Other than these cuts they have no policies.

Today's Tories are like a well wrapped present packaged in whatever colour, size, and way you wish.

Pleasant to look at, tempting to open. But when the little ribbon and the various layers of attractive wrapping are torn away there's just an empty box.

No content, no substance just an empty nothingness.

This Christmas be wary of politicians bearing little but wrapping paper.

Join Jon Sopel and guests for the Politics Show next Sunday 10 December 2006 at 12:00 GMT on BBC One.

This is the last Politics Show for the autumn series - we return again on Sunday 14 January 2007, 12:00 GMT- in the meantime, from us all... have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

What do you think? Is the Labour government getting their approach to social justice right? - you can reach the programme by using the form below to message the Politics Show.

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