food bank
With benefits frozen or taken away from many people, reliance on food banks is increasingGetty

Plans by the UK's newly elected Conservative government threatens to condemn thousands of vulnerable children to life of poverty, a leaked government memo has shown.

Poor families who could previously claim up to £26,000 in benefit a year, will now only receive a maximum of £23,000, it was announced in the Queen's speech on Wednesday, 27 May, as Cameron's Tory government endeavours to find an additional £12bn in welfare cuts.

According to a leaked Department of Work and Pensions memo, if parents are unable to find additional work, the policy will put 40,000 more children in poverty, the Guardian reported.

Government statistics state that 500,000 children already live below the official poverty line.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation social research thinktank estimates that 17% of children in the UK are currently living below the poverty line.

Cuts make fulfilling lives

Marked "sensitive" and sent to the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith two weeks after the general election, the civil service memo forecasts that "around 40,000 more… children might in the absence of any behaviour change, find themselves in poverty as a result of reducing the cap to £23,000.

"If these families respond to the cap by making behaviour change, for example moving into work, they are likely to see themselves and their children move out of relative poverty," the civil service author adds.

Iain Duncan Smith says the benefit limit would help the poor "find clear path to fulfilling lives and independence from the state".

Writing in the Daily Telegraph newspaper last week, he argued that "welfare reform is improving social mobility for families across the country, A key example of this is the benefit cap which we brought in to put a stop to sky-high benefit pay-outs. Under the Bill, the cap will be lowered from £26,000 to £23,000".

Cutbacks for social justice

Noting that a number of those who had been hit by the cap had found jobs, he said the cuts were not just about saving money.

"This is social justice in action, welfare reform that improves individual lives, not that just generates savings," he wrote.

The Tory's committed themselves to ending child poverty by 2020 in the party's 2010 election manifesto, which claimed that child poverty rates were rising.

According to analysis of Department of Work and Pensions statistics by the Child Poverty Action group, in 2010 3.5 million children were living in poverty in 2012, after 1.1 million had been lifted out of poverty during the previous 14 years.