PM has the words but does he have the policies


Simon Hopkins,Turn2us Chief Executive, comments on Prime Minster David Cameron's conference speech.

"David Cameron has spoken out against poverty in what many have described as a defining speech. We are pleased that he is using his unique platform to this effect. But will his actions, in the form of detailed policies leading to practical help, live up to the promise?

"The biggest issue remains the programme of tax credit reductions that will take effect from next April. Along with others, we flagged this as a major concern earlier in the year. Let's recap:

"These reductions will hit those in work. Despite the forecast that 8 out of 10 families will be better off as a result of these changes, this only serves to remind us that 2 out of 10 will not be.

"Whilst the National Living Wage will provide support to those working full time on minimum wage, only 13% of those seeing a tax credit reduction are likely to see an increase in income that outweighs the cut. 1.4 million part time workers say that they would like more hours but can't get them. They are going to feel a huge adverse impact in April. On top of this, we reiterate our plea not to reduce poverty to a purely statistical construct, with a revised definition that could be taken to imply that poverty has been abolished through clever drafting. Reality is a lot harsher than that and we hear that reality on a daily basis.

"The Prime Minister's emphasis on equality will do a great deal to encourage a broader debate around how we can build a more equal society and we welcome that. But as a charity that has been fighting poverty in this country for 118 years, we understand only too well that words are only the start of a much longer battle. What we now need to see is a series of meaningful measures that match the rhetoric with compassionate action on inequality.

"People remain scared, especially those in the most desperate need. Today's speech will do nothing to ease the pain for those families facing up to £1,300 off their income next year. But there is still hope and if a case can be made for reducing the size and speed of these cuts then it must be made in a productive and pragmatic manner. The emphasis and attention on tackling poverty are crucial - now we are keen to see the practical help that must accompany these."