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Try to reduce poverty, including child poverty

Last updated 3 weeks ago

And we will continue our efforts through the tax and benefits system to reduce poverty, including child poverty.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2019, p.17

Our verdict

  • This is a commitment to “continue” to use the tax and benefits system to try to reduce poverty.
  • Government “efforts” to reduce poverty in recent years have been unsuccessful, and groups on both the left and right of the political spectrum agree that the coronavirus crisis has made the situation far worse, particularly for those who were already struggling, with a bleak outlook for the next few years.  In February 2021, the Children’s Commissioner for England said the UK was “on track to have the highest levels of child poverty since records began”, and recent government statistics do show increasing levels of child poverty. However, the Office for National Statistics finds that, “Overall, taxes and benefits…redistribute income from the richest to the poorest people”, and therefore go some way towards reducing relative poverty.
  • This is not a pledge to actually reduce poverty, but only to “continue…efforts”. Therefore – in spite of ongoing inequality, rising numbers of disadvantaged children, repeated obfuscation from the Prime Minister, and concerns from experts on poverty and finance about what may happen if support for the poorest is removed – because there have not been fundamental changes to the tax and benefits system, the government has fulfilled its promise and this policy is ‘done’.

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