HC Deb 22 January 2002 vol 378 c702W
John Robertson

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the action his Department has taken to reduce child poverty. [29277]

Dawn Primarolo

This Government are committed to abolishing child poverty within a generation and halving it by 2010. As part of this commitment, a strategy document entitled "Tackling child poverty: giving every child the best possible start in life" was published in December 2001. This document will inform the Budget and Spending Review 2002.

As a result of personal tax and benefit changes announced in the last Parliament, there are now 1.2 million fewer children in poverty than there would otherwise have been. In real terms: Families with children are, on average, £1,000 a year better off. Families with children in the poorest fifth of the population are on average £1,700 a year better off. A family with two young children on half average earnings (£12,700) are £3,000 a year better off.

Specific measures announced over the last Parliament include: Increases in child benefit and the introduction of the children's tax credit. This means around 5 million families get up to £25.50 for the first child compared to £12.35 in 1997. The introduction of the working families tax credit which benefits nearly 1.3 million families who are receiving, on average, £35 a week more than its predecessor, family credit. A higher rate of children's tax credit from April 2002 which will be worth an extra £10 a week in the year of a child's birth—a total of up to £1,040 in that year. Increases in the children's allowances in income support and other income related benefits which mean that rates for children under 11 rose by 80 per cent. in real terms.

As part of the next stage of tax and benefit reform, a new tax credit for families with children—the child tax credit—will be introduced from 2003 building on the foundation of universal child benefit. It will bring together the strands of support for children in children's tax credit, working families tax credit, disabled person's tax credit and income support/jobseeker's allowance, and will be a seamless and transparent system of support for children paid to the main carer whether in or out of work. Decisions on rates and thresholds will be set out in Budget 2002.

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