Budget 2009: Campaigners call for ‘final push’ on child poverty

Campaigners are urging the government to help Britain’s poorest families by investing £3bn in tax credits in an effort to halve child poverty by 2010.

Ahead of Wednesday’s Budget, Child Poverty Action Group called for a “final and affordable step” of raising benefit levels and supporting people made unemployed during the recession.

The charity said 700,000 children would be lifted out of poverty in this way, enabling the government to meet its 2010-11 target. Current estimates show there are 2.9m children living in poverty before housing costs.

Rich ‘should be taxed’

CPAG argued that these policies, to be paid for with a series of tax increases on the wealthy, would also stimulate the economy as families spent the money in their communities.

The End Child Poverty  coalition echoed the call to inject £3 billion into benefits and child tax credits, while urging the government to improve social housing.

The calls were backed by children’s charity Barnardo’s, which said it would be making an “eleventh hour” appeal to the Prime Minister.

Chief executive Martin Narey, also chairman of the End Child Poverty coalition, said: “We need a substantial investment in helping the poorest in the UK. The alternative is to condemn millions of children and their children to a life of disadvantage and failure.”

“Families in crisis”

The calls came after Save the Children, in partnership with Family Action, announced it would provide small grants of between £100 and £200 to some of the poorest families, after declaring a “crisis” in communities in recession-hit Britain.

But think-tank Reform suggested abolishing universal child benefit and “pensioner gimmicks” such as the winter fuel allowance to help the government balance its books.

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