Britons living in poverty
LONDON: More British families are living in extreme poverty since
the Labour party took power with a promise to eradicate inequality,
Britain's main opposition Conservative party said yesterday.
Conservative MP Chris Grayling said government statistics show that
more than 400,000 families live in extreme poverty - defined as less
than 40 per cent of the average national income - than in 1998.
According to the Office for National Statistics, the current national average wage is £24,000 (BD18,244).
Grayling said his analysis of official statistics showed that latest
figures, which record the financial years from April 2005 to April
2006, showed that 1.8 million British households were living in extreme
He said that compares with 1.4m families living on less than 40pc of national average income in the years from 1998 to 1999.
Former prime minister Tony Blair, took office in 1997. The current
prime minister, Gordon Brown, who took office nine months ago, served
as chancellor of the exchequer - or finance minister - under Blair.
"This is a damning reflection of Gordon Brown's true record on poverty," Grayling said.
"Despite all the rhetoric, despite all the billions the government has spent, families in Britain are worse off."
But the government said Grayling was using unreliable statistics.
"Some people who report very low incomes appear to have high
spending. Hence any statistics on numbers in this group may be
misleading," welfare minister Stephen Timms said.
The Department of Work and Pensions uses a measure of 60pc of the national average wage to define poverty, Timms said.
Under that measure, Blair and Brown's government has lifted 300,000
families - and more than 600,000 children - out of poverty since their
Labour party took office, said a spokesman for the work and pensions