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Child Poverty

Volume 560: debated on Tuesday 12 March 2013

7. What assessment he has made of the effect on child poverty of his changes to the uprating of tax credits and other payments announced in the autumn statement. (147129)

10. What assessment he has made of the effect on child poverty of his changes to the uprating of tax credits and other payments announced in the autumn statement. (147132)

The Government have protected poor and vulnerable groups while undertaking the urgent task of tackling the fiscal deficit. Work remains the best and most immediate way out of poverty, and we have continued to prioritise providing the best possible work incentives for welfare reform and increasing the personal allowance.

The Government’s own impact assessment says that 200,000 more children will be pushed into poverty as a result of the cuts to tax credits and benefits next month. The Children’s Society says that 40% of the children in my constituency now live in poverty. Will the Minister provide an assessment of how many more children in Middlesbrough will be in absolute poverty in 2016 as a result of the Chancellor’s failures, with not enough money for their food, warmth and shelter?

The hon. Gentleman knows that the official measure for child poverty is flawed. It is based on changes in relative income, which has meant, for example, that under Labour child poverty fell by 300,000 during a recession—clearly a nonsense. This Government are focused on the causes of child poverty, such as unemployment. I would have thought that the hon. Gentleman would welcome the fact that more people are employed in Britain today than at any time in our history.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates that the changes that the Government are bringing in will cost a one-earner family with children around £534 from April this year. Will the Minister confirm that figure, and in doing so, will he confirm also that a one-earner family with children where the earner happens to be a millionaire will receive a £40,000 cut in April this year?

What I can confirm to the right hon. Gentleman is that this Government are focused on the causes of poverty, which is what he should be concerned about. I am surprised that he raises this question, because he highlights to his constituents that during the last term of the previous Government youth unemployment in his constituency went up 149%. Under this Government it is down 18%.

Is it not a lamentable fact ignored by Opposition Members that for far too long this country has had too many children growing up in workless households, which means bad outcomes for those children over the longer term? Will my right hon. and hon. Friends redouble their efforts to make the tax system as simple as possible and to create incentives for people to work and set a good example for their children?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and that is why the Government have increased the personal allowance, cutting taxes for the low paid, helping 24 million people in the country. In addition, we are introducing universal credit to create the right incentives to get people back into work.

On the subject of the personal allowance, does my hon. Friend agree that that has made a huge difference to a large number of people who are less well-off? In my constituency alone, 38,000 people have benefited.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The previous Government abolished the 10p tax rate. This Government have cut taxes for the lowest paid in this country, 24 million people have benefited and 2 million people have been taken out of taxation altogether.