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Universal Credit

Volume 519: debated on Monday 22 November 2010

We believe that universal credit will make work pay. We have done some assessment and we can announce that we believe we should reduce by 1.3 million the number of workless households facing a participation tax rate of more than 70%. We also believe that we will improve earnings incentives for some 700,000 people and that we could reduce the number of workless households by about 300,000.

I thank the Secretary of State for that response. Caudwell Children is a charity that has significant experience in helping the parents of disabled children back into work. Could he give some assurances as to how the universal credit will make that process easier?

I hope and believe that if we implement universal credit correctly, it should allow people with caring responsibilities to meet those responsibilities with greater flexibility in the number of hours they can work. At the moment, it is very difficult for many of them to work the sort of hours they need to work without damaging their ability to fulfil their caring responsibilities. We think that flexibility would be most effective for them and, strangely enough, for lone parents.

The universal credit has the desirable and indeed the shared objective of reducing the rate at which tax and benefits are withdrawn as earnings rise. But for every pound that will go into the universal credit, £8 is being removed as a result of the June Budget and the comprehensive spending review. When the Secretary of State says that nobody will be worse off, is he making the comparison with the period before or the period after those cuts come into effect?

What I said originally was that we believe that from the position we inherited, the implementation of the universal credit will have a net beneficial effect for the poorest people in this country who are trying to achieve work. So it is not just a case of people not being worse off; we believe that people will be far better off than they were when the hon. Lady’s Government left us.