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Has the Coalition balanced the budget on the backs of the poorest?

By Tim Montgomerie

A graph in the Treasury guide to the CSR would appear to suggest that the poorest people in Britain are the second biggest (proportionate) losers from the Chancellor's fiscal plans:

2_fullsize Another does show, however, that the poor are relatively protected in absolute cash terms:

6a00d8341c565553ef0133f536511c970b-800wi These graphs don't, of course, tell the whole story.

Firstly, the public services that most help the poorest people in Britain (the NHS) and the very poor people overseas (international development) have been protected. These graphs don't measure that.

Secondly, is the whole need for society to rethink its attitude to poverty. The war on poverty won't be won by transferring more and more and more money from the rich to the poor. It will be won by giving the poor a helping hand out of poverty. Iain Duncan Smith's welfare-to-work revolution and Michael Gove's schools reforms ensure that the Coalition is serious about two of the three routes out of poverty; work and education. At some point the Coalition needs to develop a strengthening family programme too.

Nonetheless I think George Osborne could have done more to ensure a fairer income distribution. Silly election-time promises on the winter fuel allowance and other poorly-targeted benefits will be honoured. Protecting higher earners' benefits might be good politics but it's is one of the reasons why the broadest shoulders are getting off relatively lightly. That and the ringfencing of the NHS, EU and aid budgets also explain why defence, police and housing are being cut so much more deeply.

4.30pm: The graph below adds the spending impact to the above charts which only show tax and spending.



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