Massaging the figures on child poverty has to be among the sickest wheezes dreamt up by government spin doctors. That is exactly what New Labour has done, according to a devastating report commissioned by the Child Poverty Action Group and published this week. Government ministers claim to have 'lifted' 1.2 million children out of poverty. But this report by a leading charity shows that figure is a lie.
It is based on 'assumptions that the numbers living in poverty would have increased after the 1997 general election had the policies of the previous government remained unchanged'. In other words, 'lifting people out of poverty' for New Labour amounts not to helping people who are poor, but a statistical trick to claim things are not as bad as they might have been.
The report found that according to the most recently published figures 4.1 million children were living in poverty in 1999-2000. This is almost identical to the number of children living in poverty when Labour was elected in 1997.
We have now had five years of New Labour government- 'boom years', we are told. Yet the gap between rich and poor has widened, and millions of people who are above the poverty line are working longer hours and running up record debts to keep their heads above water. This is just one of the conclusions from the damning Child Poverty Action Group report.