Beverley Hughes: Tories would cut children’s spending

The Conservatives would not commit the same level of investment to Sure Start or ending child poverty as Labour if they got into power, children’s minister Beverley Hughes said today.

At a Labour conference fringe event, Hughes warned that it was “impossible” for the Conservatives to sustain key children’s initiatives brought in under Labour “by Tory means”.

She told the meeting organised by charity Action for Children that while there was currently little indication of what the Tories would do with children’s policy “it didn’t look good”.

Party political consensus rejected

Hughes rejected a call from Action for Children to “take the politics out” of children’s policy, arguing that it needed the commitment of a “progressive government.”

She attacked the “regressive” Tory idea of tax allowances for married couples, arguing this would disadvantage the children of lone parents.

Hughes also hit out at a policy suggested by former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, head of think-tank the Centre for Social Justice, for mothers to get a premium to stay at home. 

“This is a pre-emptive policy that does not give men and women choices about how to manage their family lives. It is not only women that may want to stay at home,” she said.

Six-year funding

Action for Children’s chief executive, Clare Tickell, told Hughes she wanted to see a political consensus on a 6-year minimum term for any children’s initiative.

Tickell admitted this was difficult but pledged to continue lobbying for a cross-party consensus “to minimise the level of change” in children’s policies.

Last week, a report by Action for Children, formerly NCH, found there had been more than 400 initiatives affecting children including 98 acts of parliament over the past 21 years. The average term of schemes was just 3.9 years.

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