PM challenges child poverty figures
David Cameron has challenged claims that the Government's austerity measures will increase child poverty and hit the poorest hardest.
Official figures published in Chancellor George Osborne's autumn statement on Tuesday indicate that child poverty is set to swell by 100,000 over the coming years, while the Institute for Fiscal Studies think-tank suggested that lower income groups are bearing the brunt of the Government's cuts.
But Mr Cameron told ITV1's This Morning that the rich were bearing a much larger share of the burden than the poor.
"If you look at the overall numbers, the top 10% pay 10 times as much as the bottom 10%," said the Prime Minister. "That is the key to the whole package that we have produced."
Mr Cameron suggested that the predicted increase in child poverty was a statistical quirk caused by the "illogical" fact that it is recorded relative to average income rather than as an absolute measure.
Official statistics record a child as being in poverty if he or she is living in a household with below 60% of average income after housing costs.
The unusually-high £5.30-a-week increase in the state pensions announced by Mr Osborne had the unintended consequence of making households with children less wealthy in comparison to pensioners.
"I think there is a real problem with the way we measure child poverty," said the Prime Minister. "Because it is done on relative poverty, it means that if you increase the pension, that means more children are in poverty. I think that is illogical.
"It is the right thing to do to increase the pension. It doesn't make any child in this country poorer because you are giving pensioners more money at a time when they need it. I think what we've got to start doing is measuring how we help children out of poverty and keep them out of poverty."
Mr Cameron accepted that the two-year cap of 1% on public sector pay hikes announced on Tuesday was "tough", but defended the decision to uprate benefits for the jobless by 5.2% at the same time.