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Working Households (Payments)

Volume 557: debated on Tuesday 29 January 2013

13. How many working households will be affected by the changes to the uprating of tax credits and other payments announced in the autumn statement. (139724)

The 1% uprating of working age benefits and tax credits is estimated to affect 1.65 million working age households in 2015-16. Of this total, around half of the households have no individual in work and half are households in which at least one individual works at least an hour a week.

Can the Minister confirm that his Government’s own figures show that, shamefully, cuts to tax credits and other benefits will push hundreds of children in North Tyneside—and 200,000 children nationally—into poverty?

What I can confirm is that the Government are taking a very focused approach to welfare. Under the previous Government, nine out of 10 families with children were eligible for tax credits. No wonder our welfare budget was out of control. Through the Welfare Benefits Up-rating Bill and other reforms the Government have introduced, we are making our welfare system affordable and more focused.

Can my hon. Friend confirm that working families will be, on average, £125 a year better off after the announcements in the autumn statement?

I can confirm the figure used by my hon. Friend. Indeed, if we take account of all the tax changes we have made in the personal allowance, I can also say that an individual on the minimum wage and in full-time employment will see their tax bill halved under this Government.

23. More than 50% of children in my constituency are living in poverty, with the Child Poverty Action Group warning that the Government’s tax and benefit changes will push 1 million children into poverty by 2020. Why did the Minister and his Department decide not to publish the child poverty impact assessment alongside the Welfare Benefits Up-rating Bill? (139734)

As a child, I lived in a two-bedroom flat with seven people, and I saw child poverty on my street every day. I know that the hon. Lady cares passionately about this issue—[Interruption.]

I respect the hon. Lady for caring passionately about this issue. She served as a commissioner on child poverty in London and has considered the issue deeply, so I hope she agrees that there is no sense in having a measure of child poverty that just looks at relative income. It is far more important that we all come together and look at education, jobs and access to health services, and have a proper measure of child poverty if we are to truly eradicate it.

The Minister is surely right to focus on the most important elements for our young people, which include considerable Government investment in apprenticeships and taking so many people, including many of those apprentices, out of income tax altogether. Four thousand people, including many young people in my constituency, will be taken out of income tax in April. Does he agree that it is extraordinary that no one on the Opposition Benches realises the importance of this measure?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to raise this issue and the help it brings, particularly with regard to apprenticeships. In fact, in the constituency of the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Rushanara Ali), there has been a more than 100% rise in apprenticeships because of this Government.