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No change for poor

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Issue 1758

No change for poor

THE NEW Labour government made almost no progress in reducing poverty and inequality in its first three years in office according to official figures released last week.

The number of children living in poverty did show a slight drop in 1999-2000. But statisticians at the Department for Work and Pensions said the correct interpretation over the whole period would be “little or no change”. New Labour said that it would take 1.2 million children out of poverty in its first term.

The figures show it had reached barely a quarter of that number with a year to go. Over four million children remain in poverty.

Some 60 percent of people of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin live in poverty compared with 16 percent of white families. The figures now include the Working Families’ Tax Credit and the child benefit increases introduced in 1999.

Even the Financial Times recognises, “The government has a choice. If it wants to reduce relative poverty it must come clean and argue for more taxation and redistribution. If not, it must recognise that its targets on child poverty will not be achieved.”

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