OBR 'should get child poverty role'

A financial watchdog must be given powers to monitor how the Government is tackling child poverty amid claims that progress has "ground to a halt".

Catherine McKinnell has warned that the Government is failing to tackle child poverty
Catherine McKinnell has warned that the Government is failing to tackle child poverty

Labour wants the Office for Budget Responsibility to keep tabs on the impact policy decisions have on whether families are being plunged below the breadline.

A couple with two children aged five and 14 are an average of £2,132 a year worse off in real terms since 2009/10, while a couple with no children are down £1,404 a year, according to its analysis of the Households Below Average Income (HBAI) statistics.

The research also shows that b etween 2009/10 and 2012/13 an extra 300,000 children were living in families that could not afford to keep their house warm, taking the total to 1.7m children, Labour said.

Catherine McKinnell, shadow economic secretary to the Treasury, said: "David Cameron promised to lead the most family friendly government ever. But these figures show his choices have hit families with children hardest of all, while millionaires have been given a huge tax cut.

"The progress Labour made in reducing child poverty has ground to a halt under the Tories and independent forecasts say it is set to rise.

"This isn't good enough. The Office for Budget Responsibility should be required to monitor and report on the Government's progress on reducing child poverty. This should include analysing the impact of budget decisions on the level of child poverty.

"George Osborne hasn't made a single mention of child poverty in his last three budget speeches. Boosting the role of the OBR to monitor child poverty would make it more difficult for governments and chancellors to ignore the problem and the impact of their choices.

"Labour's plan to deal with the cost-of-living crisis will tackle child poverty and make work pay as we balance the books in a fairer way. We will expand free childcare, freeze energy bills, increase the minimum wage, incentivise the living wage, scrap the bedroom tax and get more homes built."