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Armando Iannucci says Government policies ‘are putting more people into poverty’

The Thick Of It creator Armando Iannucci has said that listening to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt speaking about welfare is difficult as the Government has policies that are “putting more people into poverty”.

The Scottish director and satirist, a patron of the Child Poverty Action Group, was asked for his reaction to Mr Hunt speaking about the squeeze on households on the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg programme.

The 60-year-old, whose films include The Personal History Of David Copperfield, based on the book of a similar name by Charles Dickens, said: “This is the very week that the poverty report came out, saying that child poverty has gone up yet again, and it’s almost like we’re in a Dickens novel rather than the sixth biggest economy in the world, saying there’s now 3.6 million children in poverty.

“So for every average class of 30, nine are in poverty and to say that we’re turning a corner and we’re on the right track, while ignoring that is very… it was hard for me to hear him (Mr Hunt)… you use that phrase, carrot and stick… because the implication being that you need a stick to beat those on welfare, you need a stick to beat those in poverty.

“And lay aside all the emotional (and) the psychological impact poverty has on children, the shame, the embarrassment… kids are going to school, pretending to have a packed lunch when they don’t have anything in their box, not having had any breakfast, and therefore going to school tired and stressed.”

Iannucci said the economy would be helped by “fewer people” in poverty, citing the impacts on education, children’s services, health, and the legal system.

He added: “So at the moment, we’re in a situation where we’re actually coming up with policies that are putting more people into poverty, and therefore having a greater impact and detriment to the economy because of it.”

Iannucci was also speaking following the Princess of Wales revealing that she was undergoing cancer treatment after weeks of speculation on social media about her wellbeing.

He warned that if there is a “vacuum” of no information being released then conspiracy theories can take its place, citing unsubstantiated claims about Kate and the attacks in Moscow.

Iannucci, whose films also include The Death Of Stalin, said: “It’s allowed (Russian President Vladimir) Putin to blame Ukraine and already within hours, there’s an artificial intelligence-created clip of someone from Ukraine taking responsibility.

“The vacuum that we’ve created in our media, it’s getting more and more toxic and dangerous and I don’t know how easy it’s going to be to contain, really.”

Talking about the balance between public interest and the royal family’s privacy, Iannucci also said: “It’s an impossible situation that they’re put in… we expect them to be normal and yet we expect them to be special.

“We expect them to be upfront and open but we also like them to feel a little bit kind of distant and on a pedestal and, it’s our problem, really, because… we come at them with a confused set of expectations.”

He also said “the people who run these big companies like Facebook and X… are rich enough and powerful enough to be able to sort” out problems on social media.

Iannucci was also speaking before the BBC’s licence fee is set to rise next month, having been frozen for the last two years.

However, the increase by £10.50 to £169.50 a year is at a lower rate of inflation than previously thought and the BBC has said this would “require further changes on top of the major savings that we are already delivering”.

Iannucci said: “Fact-checking costs money, so governments of whatever hue should stop trying to take money away from our public service broadcasters like the BBC, or threaten privatisation on Channel 4 (which has been abandoned).

“Because if we want something that we can trust, it does have to have substance and resources behind it.”

He was also asked about writing a satire about politics ahead of the general election, which has been touted for some time this year.

Iannucci also said he stopped doing BBC satire The Thick Of It “when politicians liked it too much”.

He added: “Reality’s taken a bit of a knocking with so much fake stuff around that it’s… about getting to the bottom of what people are actually saying, and whether it actually… stacks up.”