Church charity attacks Tory leader's pledge to 'make British poverty history'

By staff writers
October 17, 2007

A church charity has attacked Tory Leader David Cameron and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, over their new commitments on inheritance tax.

Their challenge comes after Tory leader David Cameron used the charity's campaigning phrase in a speech yesterday, pledging to "make British poverty history".

Cameron told an audience in north London that while the Tories want to help middle class aspiration, "we cannot forget the have-nots".

But Church Action on Poverty - who have run a campaign to 'make UK poverty history since 2005 - responded quickly saying that warm words towards the poor count for little when the tax policies of the main parties 'favour the rich'.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has estimated the Government needs to invest an additional £4 billion a year to meet its target of halving Child Poverty by 2010.

The cuts in Inheritance Tax announced by the Chancellor last week will hand back up to £120,000 to families with homes worth over £600,000. This will cost £1.4 billion a year – 40% of what is needed to halve child poverty.

The Conservative proposals would increase this by handing back up to £280,000 to families with homes worth over £1 million.

Niall Cooper, Church Action on Poverty National Coordinator said: "David Cameron’s welcome commitment yesterday to ‘make British poverty history‘ is not matched by his Party’s commitment to handing back huge sums to the relatively wealthy in Inheritance Tax cuts.

“In the past ten days both political parties have effectively caved in to the clamour from a powerful lobby to cut Inheritance Tax – a policy which will hand back millions of pounds to people who are already relatively well off.

"The contrast between the relatively priority given to rich and poor in last week’s Pre-Budget statement by the Chancellor was truly shocking. At the same time as handing out millions to the relatively affluent, poorer families will by just 48 pence a week more as a result of Alistair Darling’s largesse. If the Government is truly committed to ending Child Poverty it should put money into the pockets of the poorest families – not those already well off.

“Leading politicians of all parties must start resisting the lobbying of the rich and powerful and redirect scarce resources to those who need them most.

“The challenge for the Churches is now to campaign with the same vigour to end poverty close to home as we have shown for the Make Poverty History campaign.”

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