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Universal Credit

Volume 519: debated on Monday 22 November 2010

16. What assessment he has made of the likely contribution of the proposed universal credit to his Department’s objective of encouraging people to work. (25123)

I listened carefully to my right hon. Friend’s previous answer. Given the benefits for so many of the introduction of the universal credit, what chance is there that the Government might be able to accelerate its introduction beyond the 2017 time scale currently announced?

I will resist the temptation to accelerate anything. I simply say to my hon. Friend that the plan we have put in place allows us to spend the right amount of time making sure that we are integrating those on the current benefits correctly and that we are not making any mistakes. We do not plan to accelerate that, but clearly we hope that this process will go smoothly—we believe it will. That is the most important thing.

Can the Secretary of State give an estimate as to how many parents with young children will return to work under his universal credit, and can he explain the incentives?

We believe that we will lift some 350,000 people in that category out of the poverty that we inherited. I am not going to give any significant answer to the second part of the hon. Gentleman’s question, simply because I am happy to write to him in due course and give him the figures. His party says it accepts and supports this process, and the reality is that the universal credit has the biggest effect on the poorest people trying to get back into work. That surely has to be welcomed by him and the whole of his party.