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Saturday, 27 January, 2001, 13:43 GMT
Brown targets poverty
Gordon Brown addressing Fabian Society
The speech was crafted to embrace many people in need
Chancellor Gordon Brown has pledged a war on poverty with a raft of new tax and benefit measures to be introduced in Labour's General Election manifesto.

Among the targets will be a reduction in child poverty, higher incomes for pensioners and a reformed health service, he said.

Identifying a theme of "opportunity for all" as the focus of his upcoming Budget and the party's manifesto, Mr Brown also promised a commitment to full, long-term employment, wider and better access to education and a vastly improved health service.

It is not by accident but by our actions that we have achieved the lowest long-term interest rates for 35 years

Gordon Brown

"The way forward is a balanced approach designed to build prosperity for all, keeping interest rates low and ensuring stability; investing in our public services and ending the neglect," he told delegates at a Fabian Society conference in London on Saturday.

The chancellor also attacked what he called "right wing attempts to generate apathy and cynicism" among the public and he said "politics can be a force for good".

Outlining Labour's goals for the family, pensioners, employment, health and education, he said: "We have built the economic foundations and are now raising our sights to more ambitious and challenging goals."

Mr Brown said: "It is because we have held to a difficult course in our first few years that we have achieved the lowest inflation for 30 years.

"It is not by accident but by our actions that we have achieved the lowest long-term interest rates for 35 years."

List of job vacancies
Long-term unemployment is in Mr Brown's sights
Mr Brown also told the 700 conference delegates: "We must never allow a return to the quick-fix, short termism of the Tory boom and bust that would put both our economy and our ideals at risk".

Turning to his employment goals, Mr Brown highlighted the New Deal which he said had seen youth unemployment cut by 80% and long-term unemployment reduced by 70%.

He said unemployment among disabled people and lone parents was also falling for the first time in years.

The chancellor promised a new programme for the New Deal, more intensive coaching for those who are hard to employ, as well as local and regional full employment plans.

He said Labour would "tackle poverty in the workplace" and introduce a new set of employment credits for the minimum wage.

It is our duty to develop all the potential of all of our children

Gordon Brown
Mr Brown described child poverty as "a scar on the soul of our country".

He said: "Instead of developing some of the potential of some of our children, it is our duty to develop all the potential of all of our children."

Additional help for families with children would soon reach 6bn, and extra child support for a family with two children would rise by 50%, he said.

Tax and benefits reform to help hard-working families would feature measures such as the Working Families Tax Credit, Children's Tax Credit and the new Family Tax Cut - to be launched next month.

Mr Brown promised a better deal for pensioners than that offered by Tories, who he said wanted to scrap the winter allowance, free TV licences and "begin the privatisation of the basic state pension".

Protesting pensioner outside Parliament
Better deal pledged for pensioners
He said: "We intend to raise the income of mid and lower income pension, by a tax and benefit reform that will build from the foundation of the basic state pension."

New pensioner credits, he said, would guarantee a minimum income of 100 a week by 2003, with pensioners receiving more year on year then they would receive under the earnings link of the basic pension.

Promising a commitment to a state- run NHS, he pledged a new emphasis on preventative care, patients' rights and modern facilities, as well as "a new division of tasks for doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals".

Mr Brown ended his speech on an upbeat note, and said his party was confident of winning more voters at the next election.

"I believe our challenge is not just to convert people to voting for us but to convert people to our values."

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See also:

09 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Hague and Blair launch tax battle
05 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Brown rules out tax bonanza
02 Jan 01 | UK Politics
All eyes on the election
18 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Labour gears up for May poll
09 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Brown offers 'prosperity for all'
05 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Tories pledge 8bn tax cuts
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