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Quite simply, it is shameful—it is as simple as that.
New clause 2 would require the Treasury to undertake an equalities impact assessment of the changes to the personal allowance and its impact particularly on child poverty. This assessment will include households at different income levels, groups protected by the public sector equality duty and the regions and nations—this is the Labour party speaking for the whole of the United Kingdom.
Such an assessment is needed now more than ever. The Social Metrics Commission recently found, as I indicated before, that 4.5 million children are living in poverty in the United Kingdom. That is shameful. The Government claim that none of this matters as long as parents are finding work, which ignores the fact that work is no longer a sustainable route out of poverty. Indeed, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that more than two thirds of children in poverty live in a working family.
We know that the assessment set out in new clause 2 will further justify the United Nations special rapporteur’s investigation into this Government’s policy of austerity last week. The poverty envoy found that the policies of austerity had inflicted “great misery” on our citizens, and he went as far as to say that the “fabric of British society” is falling apart as a result. That is absolutely damning.