Former prime minister says Tory policies will reverse progress made in tackling poverty under Labour.
The former prime minister Gordon Brown has strongly attacked Theresa May’s claim to be the champion of Britain’s struggling families, warning that the Conservative government’s welfare cuts would leave more people in poverty than under Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s.
In his first major intervention in the election campaign, Brown said May’s policies would reverse the progress made in tackling poverty under Labour and leave the country more “economically divided and socially polarised than any other prime minister in living memory”.
Writing in the Guardian, Brown highlights recent research from the Institute of Fiscal Studies and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation showing that slow growth in wages and less generous welfare payments would result in a sharp increase in relative poverty over the next five years.
He said: “There will soon be more people in poverty in May’s Britain – 15.7 million citizens – than ever there were in Margaret Thatcher’s Britain. And almost 1 million more children condemned to poverty than even in the darkest days of Thatcher-Major rule.”
People are judged to be living in relative poverty if they are in a household that has to manage on less than 60% of median income. Brown’s budgets during his 10 years as Tony Blair’s chancellor focused on measures to reduce poverty, including the introduction of tax credits for the working poor and increases in child benefit.