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Social Security Benefits: Hertfordshire

Volume 488: debated on Wednesday 25 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the number of families in (a) Hemel Hempstead and (b) Hertfordshire who have received benefits as a result of the Government's policy on welfare reform. (246560)

Information is not available on the number of families in receipt of benefits.

Active intervention is key and at no time is this more important than in economic slowdowns. If it is becoming harder to find work, it is right that we do more to help, not less. This is why we are moving people from inactive benefits to the active regime of jobseeker's allowance if this will help them, even if this means an increase in the jobseeker's allowance count in the short term.

We strongly believe that the welfare state should combine rights with responsibilities. Our welfare reforms have been built on this foundation, that in order to receive support during periods of unemployment people should be actively seeking work or making efforts to move closer to work.

Our reforms have resulted in high numbers of people in work throughout the country, and have put an end to the rise in the number of people claiming incapacity benefits. We remain committed to further reform to reduce welfare dependency and support more people into work, provide greater support and control for disabled people and strengthen parental responsibility.

Previous experience has taught us that the worst thing we can do in a downturn is to write people off, consigning them to a lifetime on benefits. We are investing an additional £1.3 billion over the next two years to support Jobcentre Plus and our employment programmes; and a further £0.5 billion to guarantee more support to people unemployed for six months or more by providing incentives for firms to hire, access to help in setting up a business, extra funding for training and opportunities for work-focused volunteering.

Our welfare reform programme will allow us to bring about the most radical reform of the welfare state for generations. Our reforms promise greater support for people on benefits and a more flexible, personalised system to help them find sustainable employment. In return we expect people to take up this help, and work with us to help themselves. The Welfare Reform Bill will take the primary powers needed to complete the transformation of the welfare state, turning it from being essentially passive to profoundly active.