TUC’s ‘breadline children’ report challenged

By Jo-Anna K. Burnett

More than half a million British children will live below the poverty line by 2015, the TUC has warned in a disputed report.

It fears the number of children living in households whose income has dropped below the minimum income standard (MIS) will increase dramatically as a result of the effect of government policies.

The research warned the coalition's policies would lead to 690,000 more children living below the MIS in just two years' time – and claimed this would lead to a majority of Britain's children living below the breadline.

Factors like the VAT increase and tax credit cuts will add 460,000 more children under the minimum standard for income in two years, the report claimed.

About 170,000 and 80,000 children will fall below the MIS due to slow wage growth, and the pay freeze and cap for public employees, respectively.

"Families are suffering the tightest squeeze in their living standards in nearly a century," TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said.

"What Britain faces is a growth, jobs and living standards crisis.

"Rather than targeting tax cuts at millionaires, cutting VAT would benefit everyone and help poorer households far more than raising the personal allowance."

Currently the breadline level is £12,623 for a single pensioner, £23,992 for a single parent with two children and £24,643 for a couple and only child.

Ten per cent of Britain's poorest families are projected to show an increased income, but only by 57 pence a week. Twenty thousand children will rise above the MIS due to the coalition's universal credit reforms, according to the report.
Low wages and public policies are "making life even more miserable for millions of low to middle-income families through tax increases and cuts in benefits and tax credits," O’Grady added.

The conclusions of its research are being challenged by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF), which the TUC's work is based on.

The TUC's report "is not our version" of the research, Daniel Wright of the JRF told politics.co.uk.