Alison Garnham, the chief executive of Child Poverty Action Group, said in response to the Budget:

“This poverty-complacent Budget puts at risk the government’s ability to meet its legally binding targets and its pre-election promises to end child poverty by 2020.

“Despite the chancellor’s repeated recognition of the pressures facing families, the Budget contains nothing specifically targeted to help families with children.

“We’re hugely disappointed there’s no compensation package in the Budget to rescue families facing crippling poverty and debt. That’s really bad news because the pressure on family budgets is going to get worse very soon as cuts to benefits and tax credits hit April pay packets and benefit payments.

“Every little helps, so raising the income tax threshold will be welcomed by families desperately trying to make ends meet. But it’s nowhere near enough to make up for rising living costs or a whole range of cuts already announced that will hit the poorest the hardest.

“Income tax accounts for only about three per cent of the incomes of the poorest fifth of households. Today’s help with the threshold is relatively small beer compared to the harm of the VAT increase – the poorest families spend nearly ten per cent of their incomes on VAT.

“We’re pleased that the chancellor accepts that tax avoidance adds to pressure to raise taxes on families, so we welcome the proposed strategy paper but still feel the government needs to face up to the fact that much more significant sums are being avoided than they are attempting to recover, so they must give greater priority to this work.”