Dispute over plans to scrap child tax credits

St Helens North MP Conor McGinn
St Helens North MP Conor McGinn

Governmment plans to tweak the way child poverty rates are calculated have been slammed as “moving the goalposts” by a St Helens MP.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith last week announced proposals to scrap Labour’s Child Poverty Act.

The Act established a duty for governments to eradicate child poverty by 2020.

New legislation will now require ministers to regularly produce reports on factors affecting a child’s life chances.

Borough MP Conor McGinn recently attacked the Government for its inactivity in covering the issue, citing that levels of child poverty are five per cent about the national average.

And colleague Marie Rimmer, MP for St Helens South, has hit out at the latest changes.

Ms Rimmer said: “David Cameron used to say he wanted ‘to be judged on how we tackle poverty’. Yet he plans to cut child tax credits for 13,200 children in working families in St Helens South and Whiston and alter the way we measure poverty.

“Instead of shifting the goalposts, the Prime Minister and Secretary of State should take responsibility and tackle low pay, instead of attacking the low paid.”

The 2010 Act defines a child as being in poverty if it is in a household with less than 60 per cent of the national average income.

Under the new law ministers will be asked to report on levels of family breakdown, problem debt and drug and alcohol addiction.

Mr Duncan Smith said: “It is not enough to tackle the symptoms of child poverty without also tackling the underlying causes.

“The new measures are the foundation of a new, comprehensive way of addressing poverty and reflect our conviction that work is the best route out of poverty.”

Mr McGinn, MP for St Helens North, has challenged the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on support for working families.

He said: “No child should have to live in poverty and the lack of progress is worrying. We should be working to address the root causes and ensure working families get the support they need.”

“Taking away support from working families will only make the situation worse for families in my constituency and across the UK. I hope the minister will take my concerns seriously and will fully examine the impact of any cut to in work benefits”