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Benefit Reform

Volume 268: debated on Tuesday 12 December 1995

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what reforms of the benefit system he is planning to help unemployed people back to work. [5037]

Throughout the review of the social security system, helping people to return to work has been a central focus. In July, we increased family credit by £10 per week for those working 30 hours or more. Last month, we published the draft rules for the earnings top-up scheme, to help those without dependent children. From April 1996 we are smoothing the transition into work through a four-week extension of housing costs. We are encouraging employers to take on those who have been unemployed for more than two years, by introducing a "holiday" from national insurance contributions. We are now building on existing work incentives. In his statement on the Budget, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced an increase of £20 in the child care disregard in family credit and disability working allowance. Child care costs to the value of £60 will now be disregarded during benefit assessments. Helping people to return to work is the best way to improve people's living standards and the best way to improve their prospects.