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Tuesday, November 9, 1999 Published at 19:25 GMT

UK Politics

Child poverty to be 'halved in a decade'

Labour plans to end child poverty within 20 years

A package of measures intended to cut child poverty by half in a decade were unveiled by Chancellor Gordon Brown in his pre-Budget report.

The new target is in addition to the government's standing commitment to totally eradicate child poverty within 20 years.

Pre-Budget Statement
Mr Brown's speech was generally given a warm welcome by campaigners.

Detailing the government's "war on child poverty", the chancellor announced the creation of a new children's fund to tackle the problem.

The fund, which will be operating by April 2001, will "provide project grants for community action to tackle all aspects of child poverty".

The amount of money that it will receive has yet to be announced.

In the longer-term, the government will bring together benefit payments paid to support children into what is to be a single integrated child credit.

This will replace the current child support elements of the working families tax credit, income support and the new children's tax credit.

The single credit will build on the foundation of universal child benefit and could be paid direct to a child's main carer.

The Treasury said the single system would mean less bureaucracy, enable parents to see exactly how much support they should be receiving and deliver efficiency gains to the government.

Poverty rates trebled

[ image: Gordon Brown: New fund to tackle child poverty]
Gordon Brown: New fund to tackle child poverty
Research published by the Treasury on Tuesday show that the number of children in relative poverty in the UK has trebled in the past three decades.

It claimed the best route out of poverty in the long term was through work and making it more attractive for parents on benefits to find work.

Government measures already announced will provide an extra £6bn a year for children by the end of this Parliament, lifting 800,000 children out of poverty, it claimed.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children welcomed Mr Brown's new pledge to end 50% of child poverty in 10 years, calling it "radical, forward thinking and innovative".

NSPCC director Jim Harding said: "We are particularly pleased that the government will be backing up this commitment with resources and a key role for the voluntary sector."

Save the Children's UK advocacy coordinator Lisa Harker, said the pre-Budget statement emphasised the government's commitment to end child poverty.

"A number of very interesting proposals have been brought forward and Save the Children is looking forward to responding constructively to the detailed proposals," she added.

However, the Child Poverty Action Group warned there was little new in the speech to help the poor .

It said the government should be seizing the "golden opportunity" of a strong economy to end all child poverty within 10 years.

The group was "extremely concerned" at the threat of tougher sanctions against the unemployed and warned financial support for children had to be increased significantly if child poverty was to be tackled.

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