THE BLOG

Budget 2013: The Struggle for Poor Families Shows No Sign of Relenting

21/03/2013 10:11 GMT | Updated 20/05/2013 10:12 BST

Chancellor George Osborne had failed to deliver an anti-poverty budget that would boost living standards and ease the strain on poor families.

We needed an anti-poverty budget to help struggling families, but what we heard yesterday was a standstill budget for a go-slow economy. At the time of the Autumn Statement, last December, I warned of a decade of destitution and I do so again now.

The Chancellor faced a test: he needed to boost households incomes and help cut the cost of essentials. Neither were forthcoming and this budget failed to do enough for low-income households.

Growth must go hand-in-hand with helping the poorest families. Proper infrastructure - the provision of childcare and housing supply measures that help those excluded from the market - were needed to complement any building projects.

Low-income families needing support weren't asking for a miracle cure today - instead they sought urgent measures that would help lift their income, cut their costs and improve living standards.

The early increase in the income tax personal allowance is a fillip for those who are able to benefit from it, but this is not an efficient way of targeting help on households in poverty.

Recognising the burden of childcare costs is a start, but the extra help in the new tax-free childcare policy barely benefits those on the low incomes, nor makes up for the shortfall from previous cuts to childcare tax credits.

Knowing support is coming in three years' time provides little comfort for those who are struggling to make it through to the end of the week. With cuts to benefits and tax rises around the corner, the struggle for millions of poor families shows no sign of relenting.