Page last updated at 12:37 GMT, Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Cameron rejects Miliband's attack over poverty

Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband have clashed over the government's record on poverty, during the last prime minister's question session of the year.

Mr Miliband said there had been a "six-fold increase" in the number of people turning to food banks in recent years, including "working people".

He said the situation was "getting worse" under the coalition.

Mr Cameron insisted that tax changes, including raising the personal income tax threshold, were helping the worst-paid, during heated exchanges on 19 December 2012.

He said the government had taken action to tackle inflation, increase employment and help with the cost of living.

The prime minister also paid tribute to the nation's volunteers and said those who help out at food banks "are part of what I call the Big Society".

But Mr Miliband responded: "I never thought that the big society was about feeding hungry children in Britain."

He accused the prime minister of being "out of touch", claiming that benefit changes announced in autumn statement would hit "the strivers".

He claimed the government was standing up for the rich while hitting the lower and middle-income earners.

Mr Cameron hit back: "What is out of touch is denying we have a deficit left by his government that we are having to deal with."

He said the richest people in the UK would pay more in tax in every year of the coalition government than under Labour.

At the start of the session the Mr Cameron sent a Christmas message to UK troops. His comments were echoed by Mr Miliband.

When pressed on troop numbers in Afghanistan, the PM said the British military deployment will be reduced from 9,000 to 5,200 by the end of 2013.

He added that no troops would serve in a combat role after 2014, the planned date for withdrawing most forces from the country.

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