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Child poverty may rise to record 60-year high if Boris Johnson wins election

A think tank has analysed political parties' manifestos to predict the risk levels of child poverty. Photo: Toby Melville/Reuters
A think tank has analysed political parties' manifestos to predict the risk levels of child poverty. Photo: Toby Melville/Reuters

Child poverty in the UK could hit a 60-year high if the Conservatives are re-elected, according to an analysis from the Resolution Foundation.

The independent think tank has used party manifestos for its analysis. Labour has committed to 28 times as much spending as the Conservatives on public spending.

Jeremy Corbyn has pledged £83bn in new public spending every year, promising free broadband, reversing benefit cuts and more money for health and social care.

Boris Johnson’s Conservatives have set aside £2.9bn in new spending, which will go towards more nurses, GP appointments and free childcare.

However, according to analysis from the FT, Johnson’s pledge around free childcare only amounts to around £1-a-day per child.

The Resolution Foundation claims that Labour’s committed spending would lead to 550,000 fewer children in poverty, although it would not see current poverty rates fall.

Responding to the report, a Conservative party spokesperson said: “We are committed to tackling child poverty and have made progress since we came into government – with 730,000 fewer children in workless households.

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“But we know that we must continue to make every effort on this issue and our manifesto sets out how we will use the tax and benefits system to do this. The prime minister has committed to giving every child in the country the opportunities to make the most of their talents.”

Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: “Our reforms to social security, including scrapping Universal Credit, the two-child limit and the benefit cap, will stop child poverty increasing, as this report rightly acknowledges. But it fails to take account of Labour’s plans to tackle the root causes of child poverty.

“We will poverty-proof schools, introducing free school meals for all primary school children and tackling the cost of school uniforms. We will massively expand free childcare and open 1,000 new Sure Start centres.

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“We will tackle the crisis of low pay by introducing a real living wage of £10 an hour and giving public sector workers a 5% pay rise, abolishing in-work poverty within a parliament [term]. We will also guarantee a right to food to end the scandal of children and their families relying on food banks.

“The choice at this election is clear: record child poverty under the Tories or – with Labour – the strongest and widest fight against the root causes of child poverty for a generation.”

Addressing both party’s proposals, Laura Gardiner of the resolution foundation said: “Against the backdrop of major cuts, the parties’ manifestos do offer big choices on social security.

“Under the Conservatives little is set to change, and child poverty risks reaching a record high in the coming years. Labour and Liberal Democrat pledges to spend £9bn more would mean child poverty being over 500,000 lower than under Conservative plans. However, this would not do enough to see child poverty fall from today’s already high levels.”