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What is Labour doing for… families and children?

Context

Labour is reforming tax and benefits to guarantee decent family incomes, extending employment opportunity to all, supporting parents in their parenting role and delivering high quality public services. We are committed to halving child poverty in ten years on the way to abolishing it in a generation.

Key points

• To date, we have lifted over half a million children out of relative poverty and over two million out of absolute poverty.
• Compared to 1997, families with children are on average £1,350 a year better off in real terms as a result of Labour’s tax and benefit reforms; the poorest households with children are £3,000 a year better off.
• New mothers have gained 26 weeks paid maternity leave, fathers 2 weeks paternity leave. Parents with young or disabled children have the right to request flexible hours.
• Six million families are benefiting from the new tax credits – the Child Tax Credit and the Working Tax Credit.

Our approach

In 1997 Labour inherited one of the highest rates of child poverty in Europe – with one in three children living in poverty. Our mission to abolish child poverty is grounded both in our determination to secure social justice, and to tackle the problems that the social exclusion of children builds up for the long-term.
Work is the best route out of poverty and our successful welfare to work measures have lifted millions out of poverty including disabled people, who have too often previously been consigned to a life on benefits. At the same time, millions of families are benefiting from the Child Tax Credit, the Working Tax Credit, and record rises in Child Benefit.

Labour is committed to helping parents balance work and family life. And has introduced enhanced maternity, paternity and adoption leave, and the right for parents to request flexible working. We are also expanding childcare provision and nursery education, not just to give children the best start in life, but also to help those with caring responsibilities who want to move into work.

What we have achieved

• Help for families: In April 2005, Child Benefit will rise to £17 for the first child and £11.40 for subsequent children – a 25 per cent real terms increase since 1997. The Child Tax Credit combines with Child Benefit to ensure a family with two children and annual income less than £50,000 are guaranteed £38.90 a week.

Further information

  • www.dwp.gov.uk - More detailed information on policies to tackle child poverty as well as Ministerial speeches

  • www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk - More detailed information about moving off benefit and into work

  • www.taxcredits.inlandrevenue.gov.uk -For information on Labour’s Child and Working Tax Credits or call 0845 300 3900

  • www.surestart.gov.uk -The Sure Start programme aims to deliver the best start in life for every child by bringing together: early education, childcare, health and family support.

  • Devolution statement

    Some issues affecting families and children are devolved matters for Scotland and Wales, some are reserved to Westminster.
    March 2005