Tories and Labour go toe-to-toe on poverty

Osborn: Tories better on poverty
Osborn: Tories better on poverty

Labour and the Conservatives are going toe-to-toe over the government record on poverty today, after shadow chancellor George Osborne claimed the Conservatives are better placed to address poverty.

In a speech later today to the thinktank Demos, Mr Osborne will argue that the number of people in severe poverty has increased by 900,000 since Labour came to power.

"Simply redistributing money, simply chucking money at people, simply relying on tax credits, has failed," Mr Osborne said.

"There is absolutely no Conservative plan to in any way get rid of tax credits, indeed if anything we want to strengthen tax credits."

But Labour has reacted quickly to Mr Osborne's attempt to invade their traditional political territory.

Treasury minister Angela Eagle said she was "delighted" to take on the Tories over their record.

"This is the same Tory party that opposed the minimum wage, opposed pension credit and the winter fuel allowance, opposed support for families through tax credits and still won't commit to any real pledge on child poverty," she said.

"George Osborne's latest scattergun attack is just another example of the Conservatives trying to avoid tough questions about their own unfunded and unfair policies."

The move will be interpreted as an attempt to pre-empt Labour's new critique of the Tories, in which David Cameron is presented as the acceptable public relations face of a party which is still obsessed with cutting taxes for the rich.

Yvette Cooper, Treasury chief secretary and a Brownite loyalist, launched the opening salvo of that fightback yesterday in a highly personal attack on Mr Cameron.

"Cameronomics is emerging, in which photo ops, warm words and conflicting promises attempt to distract from a risky and destructive ideological agenda," Ms Cooper said.

"Cameron knows that his party are keen for some traditional Tory red meat, especially on tax cuts. Their policy positions also reveal ideological stances which would be bad for the British economy."

Mr Osborne is promising to remove more children from poverty - one of New Labour's most celebrated aims - through tax incentives to married couples and an improved administrative arrangement of welfare.

Other efforts include improving schools in poor areas and tackling 'welfare dependency'.

"These Conservative methods of achieving progressive goals are likely to be far more successful and create a fairer society," he said.


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