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Universal Credit

Volume 523: debated on Monday 14 February 2011

The objective of the universal credit is that work should definitely pay for the majority of people—as many as possible—but certainly it should pay most significantly at the highest levels for those on the lowest incomes.

The vast majority of people on benefits do not want to stay there for the rest of their lives. Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the universal credit, with support from the Work programme, will help people in Macclesfield to get back to work, and ensure that it pays for them to go on working?

Absolutely. The interaction between the universal credit and the Work programme is critical. In a sense, one without the other will not work as effectively. The purpose of the universal credit is to ensure that entering the world of work becomes much easier, because people will retain more of their own money: we will be lowering marginal deduction rates. In some cases, on average, those in the bottom two deciles will see an increase in their weekly pay of about £25 a week after they enter work—a significant increase. The Work programme, which my right hon. Friend the Minister of State was talking about, will help with those who are more difficult to place. For the first time, they will get a tailored programme that helps them to deal with their problems, and gets them into work and maintains them there for up to a year, and in some cases more.

Will the Secretary of State confirm that the Government intend to save £1.3 billion between now and 2015 by reducing the child care element of the tax credit? Will the universal credit be sufficiently resourced to ensure that no working parent out of the 488,000 households that stand to lose anything up to £30 a week will be any worse off than at present?

We are returning the levels on the child issue that the hon. Lady is talking about to the levels left by the previous Government in 2006. It is all very well for the Opposition to nit-pick and say that they are desperately in tune and on side with all those people who are going to feel the squeeze, but in reality the Labour party now has a leader who was responsible, with his colleagues, for spending money like there was no tomorrow. That has left us with a major deficit, and now we have to get that money back. If she does not like what we are doing, please can she tell us where she would intend the money to come from?