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Child Poverty Bill

Part of Bill Presented — Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:05 pm on 20th July 2009.

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Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Shadow Minister (Women), Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 5:05 pm, 20th July 2009

That is a myth that the Labour Government have attempted to perpetuate for many years. We have not said that we will cut the Sure Start programme.

Numerous elements must be considered as part of a broad, holistic approach to child poverty-debt, addictions, health care, housing and the criminal justice system-and we will press the Government on those issues during the remaining stages of the Bill's passage. It would be a wasted opportunity if they ignored them.

The Bill must mark a second phase in our nation's progress towards ending child poverty. The first phase was simply not good enough. It was a one-dimensional approach that focused solely on tax credits and, tragically but predictably, resulted in an increase in child poverty at the very time when it should be decreasing. The same mistake must not be made again. Poverty is a complex and stubborn blight on our nation, and we will not eliminate it until we recognise its causes and tackle them head on. That means supporting the family as the most important institution in our society. It means tackling generational worklessness and welfare dependency. It means ending the failures of our education system, which result in so much wasted talent. It means working with local government, businesses and the voluntary sector in all parts of the country.

The Government's intention in presenting the Bill now is to bind the next Conservative Government. I assure the Minister and the House that the next Conservative Government will not adopt a one-dimensional approach to child and family poverty. We will recognise, and seek to tackle, the complex web of issues that lead to it, as part of our aim to improve the well-being and life chances of all those living in the United Kingdom.

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