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Poverty

Volume 514: debated on Monday 19 July 2010

The Government are committed to creating a stronger society based on the principles of freedom, fairness and responsibility. The Cabinet Committee on Social Justice will be the forum in which Ministers look at how to tackle issues around poverty. The Committee will ensure that, for the first time, Departments must thoroughly examine the overall impact of their policies, so that we can avoid unintended consequences and the poorest being hit hardest.

I thank the Minister for her reply. Last Friday, I visited the Trussell Trust food bank in my constituency, and it became clear in conversation with Chris Mould, the director, that one of the principal reasons why the charity had to make £41,000 in grants of food aid in emergency circumstances last year was that benefits had been delayed. What steps can the Minister take to assure my constituents, and those of other Members, that such delays are minimised so that acute poverty—where people need food—will not occur again during the next five years?

Delays in getting benefits to recipients are obviously critical, particularly for those whose families face the toughest circumstances. I will look into the specific points that my hon. Friend has raised, but I remind him that we are in this position, with 2.8 million children living in poverty, because the previous Government left us with a very difficult legacy, and some of these issues will take some time to address.