Budget reactions: child poverty, substance misuse and older people

Charities and campaign groups give their verdict on today’s Budget from chancellor Alistair Darling.

Child poverty
Alistair Darling announced plans to lift 250,000 children out of relative poverty by 2010, through increases in child benefit and child tax credits for the poorest families, worth £950m a year by 2010.

“In such a tight spending round, is it is reassuring to see the government is still serious about lifting children out of poverty. Today’s measures will not on their own hit the crucial target of halving child poverty by 2010 but they are an encouraging and important step forward.”
Hilary Fisher, director, Campaign to End Child Poverty

“This is excellent news for Britain’s poorest children. It keeps the 2010 target to halve child poverty in reach. It won’t take us all the way there, but today the intent is clear and a significant step forward has been taken.
Kate Green, chief executive, Child Poverty Action Group

“Every Disabled Child Matters is disappointed that the Budget did not contain any specific commitments on extending the winter fuel allowance to families with disabled children – our specific campaign goal. However, we welcome the recognition set out in ‘Ending child poverty: everybody’s business’, that parents of disabled children face particular challenges.
Every Disabled Child Matters campaign

“By investing less than a third of what is necessary to halve child poverty, the government has effectively given up on its 2010 target. Children in the poorest families will have to wait until next year for even the small scale and highly complex changes announced today to take effect.”
Danny Alexander, Liberal Democrat shadow work and pensions secretary

“If Alistair Darling is to provide true stability and strength to Britain he needs to increase investment in preventative services. Working intensively with families to tackle anti-social behaviour and preventing family breakdown is an investment that will pay off and lift struggling families out of poverty once and for all.”
Clare Tickell, chief executive, NCH

“The chancellor should have done more to tackle child poverty. While there are welcome measures today, the chancellor has not done enough to meet the target of halving child poverty by 2010, but neither has he made it impossible. But to do so will require much more bravery in making the super-rich pay their fair share of tax.”
Brendan Barber, general secretary, TUC

“The Children’s Society applauds this Government for its continuing commitment to lift all children out of poverty.  It will not be cheap, and it will not be easy, but the benefits it will bring to the 3.8 million children living in poverty today are priceless. There is still a long way to go before we can ensure that no child has to experience the disadvantage and limitations that poverty brings.”
Bob Reitemeier, chief executive, The Children’s Society

“There is much more work to be done to reach the 2010 target, let alone to reach the more ambitious 2020 target. Today’s announcement of £125m for pilot schemes of innovative ways to reach the 2020 target however is a step in the right direction.”
Paul Ennals, chief executive, NCB

Substance misuse
The chancellor announced plans to increase duties on all alcohol by 6% a year from today.

“This move in taxation provides an important recognition by government concerning the health impact of heavy alcohol consumption. We will continue to promote greater focus on alcohol issues. We recommend that alcohol in the market place be given special consideration requiring special market regulation and that it must not treated as any other ordinary commodity.”
Dr Michael Farrell, Chair of the Addictions Faculty of the Royal College of Psychiatrists

Older people/fuel poverty
Darling announced a one-off rise in the winter fuel payment in 2008-9 of £50 for people aged over 60 and £100 for those over 80, and calls for energy companies to triple from £50m to £150m a year the amount they spend on lower, “social tariffs” for vulnerable customers.

“It is a badge of shame that Alistair Darling has not taken more decisive action to combat the evils of fuel poverty. The one-off increase in the winter fuel payment is nothing more than a sticking plaster which will fail to help pensioners over the long term. Older people need far more than gestures while energy prices spiral ever upwards. The announcement of a voluntary code on smart meters and more pressure on energy providers to introduce wider social tariffs is puny.  This is a clear case of the government passing the buck.”
Mervyn Kohler, Help the Aged

“Increasing the winter fuel allowance, while useful as an interim measure, will not resolve the problem of fuel poverty.”
Paul Bettison, chair of the Local Government Association environment board

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