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TACKLING POVERTY AT HEART OF GOVERNMENT AGENDA - ALISTAIR DARLING

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New statistics reveal the depth of poverty the government has had to tackle - Alistair Darling said today. ...
New statistics reveal the depth of poverty the government has had to tackle - Alistair Darling said today.

The scial scurity scretary said the report Households Below Average Income 1994/5 to 1998/9 confirmed the gvernment was right to put the fight against worklessness, child poverty and pensioner poverty high on its agenda.

Mr Darling said: 'Poverty on the scale inherited by this government took years to

build up. Today's report confirms the scale of the problem we need to turn around.

'Major initiatives have been introduced since April 1999 - such as the largest ever increases in cild bnefit and the introduction of the ntional mnimum wge and wrking families' tax credit.

'Overall the tax and benefit measures announced in Gordon Brown's Budgets will lift 1.2 million children out of poverty by the end of this parliament putting us on track to meet our commitment to halve child poverty within a decade and eradicate it within 20 years.

'Absolute poverty has been reduced as more people are in work - a result of the stronger economy and the government's determination to give people the help, training and skills to compete for jobs in the modern labour market.

Mr Darling added: 'Today's report highlights the link between being out of work and

living on a low income: people in families without a worker are most at risk of being at the bottom of the income ladder.

'This finding reinforces our strategy of helping into work all those who can work. For most people the best route out of poverty is through a job and our record here speaks for itself - there are now more people in work than ever before.'

Notes

Since April 1999 the government has:

- Introduced working families tax credit - by April 2000 a family with one full-time earner will be guaranteed a minimum income of£214 a week.

- Introduced the minimum income guarantee for pensioners and increased it in line with earnings this April so the poorest pensioners are now£240 a year better off than in March 1999

- Introduced the national minimum wage which has increased the earnings of 1.5 million low-paid employees by 30 per cent on average

- Increased income support so that from October 2000 a couple with two children aged under 11 will be better off by£1,500 per annum compared with 1997.

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