Page last updated at 14:58 GMT, Thursday, 22 July 2010 15:58 UK

Boateng warns on impact of Budget on children in care

Paul Boateng has used his maiden speech in the House of Lords to raise fears that the government's Budget will lead to poorer services for children in care.

Labour's Lord Boateng made his comments on 22 July 2010 in a debate on the effect on the poor of George Osborne's emergency Budget.

He said he feared the removal of ring-fenced grants for local authorities would lead "to a collapse in funding for voluntary organisations and... to cutbacks in the special support services provided to children in care and children at risk".

He urged the government: "Please, in the course of the spending review that must take place, that is taking place, make sure that there is a stream of work that looks at the impact of the budgetary provisions on those children in care, children at risk and voluntary organisations who will be affected by the rise in VAT."

Labour former work and pensions minister Lord McKenzie of Luton, opening the debate, said the the government had chosen to raise VAT levels instead of "targeted taxes on the assets and in comes of the wealthiest".

He told peers: "It is clear that on proper scrutiny the 2010 budget was deeply regressive, cutting benefits, reducing tax credits for families on low and moderate incomes, short changing pensions and pensioners, exacerbating homelessness, choosing regressive taxes. These are choices that did not have to be made."

Replying to the debate, Welfare Reform Minister Lord Freud said: "Many of the measures in the emergency Budget were taken in the face of a potential eurozone economic crisis.

"And this was a legacy which we inherited from the previous administration, with borrowing forecast at a stunning £149bn this year, the second largest in Europe."

The Tory minister went on: "The Budget simply had to tackle borrowing and get that deficit down."

This had led to some "extremely tough choices", he said, but ministers had aimed "to protect the vulnerable and ensure that our reforms were made with fairness and responsibility uppermost in our minds".

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