Lord Freud was formerly an adviser to the Labour Government on welfare reform before quitting to join the Conservatives in February 2009. Since ennobled, he is now shadow minister for welfare reform and is leading for the Conservatives on the Child Poverty Bill, which has its Committee Stage in the Lords next week.
After over twelve years of New Labour, child poverty is rising. It has been doing since well before the financial crisis struck in 2009. Indeed, the turn for the worse started in 2004-5. Despite near doubling the payments of credits and benefits to families with children, New Labour is failing on one of its key targets.
Remember Tony Blair's soundbite pledge to 'abolish child poverty? In fact, it is getting worse. In 1997-8, 4.2 million children were in households with income below 60% of the median, a standard definition of the poverty line. The figure did fall to 3.6 million in 2004-5. But since then it has been rising - and the latest figures show it standing at over 4 million again. Why?
It is not because Labour did not want to help. It is simply that, as is so many other fields, their Big State prescription has failed.
Clearly the slowdown in earnings growth in recent years has had an effect. But that has been magnified by Labour's sharp redistribution of income in favour of the richest in the country. Under Blair and Brown the conventional measure of income inequality - the Gini Coefficient - rose to its highest level since records began in 1961. Few realise that New Labour is quite so much the party of the rich.