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Household Budgets

Volume 591: debated on Tuesday 27 January 2015

14. What recent estimate he has made of the effect on household budgets of tax and benefit decisions taken in the present Parliament. (907248)

Since 2010, I have published regular distributional analysis of the impact on households of our reforms to tax, welfare and public spending. It is the most comprehensive analysis available. The most recent analysis we published, alongside the autumn statement last month, shows that the wealthiest continue to make the biggest contribution towards reducing the deficit. By 2015-16, the net contribution of the richest 20% will be larger than the remaining 80% put together.

Today, the second independent report in as many weeks shows that proportionately the Government have hit the poorest and those with small children the hardest. Today, half a million more children are living in absolute poverty than when the right hon. Gentleman walked into the Treasury. Will he tell us why, instead of tackling that, he supported tax cuts for millionaires?

Those analyses ignore some of the most important and most progressive policies put in place by the Government. They ignore the pupil premium, which is investing money in the life chances of young people. They ignore the extra early years education provided to three and four-year-olds, and to the most disadvantaged two-year-olds. They are not included in those analyses, but they are helping to ensure that young people have better life chances under this Government.

Does the Minister not agree that it is important to note that real wages are rising, real disposable income is rising, child poverty is down and inequality is down under this Government?

It is very important to note all three of those facts, but it is also important not to be complacent. There is a lot more to do to ensure that we continue to deliver the successful growing economy that is creating jobs, because ultimately getting into work is the best route out of poverty for families.

I am not surprised that the Chief Secretary to the Treasury does not want to acknowledge the full truth unveiled last week by the Institute for Fiscal Studies’ figures. Its report shows clearly that tax and benefit changes under this Government have left households £1,127 a year worse off on average, and that families with children have been hardest hit of all. Does that not make a complete mockery of the Government’s claims that they would be the most family-friendly Government ever?

As I said, the published analysis is incomplete because it ignores public expenditure. Public expenditure is a very important part of fiscal consolidation, but it is the shift in public expenditure, towards such things as early years education, the pupil premium and supporting disadvantaged young people through the education system, that is a vital part of improving life chances. I hope the hon. Lady will want to recognise that the measures the Government have taken have been aimed at improving the life chances of people. That is why we are making so much progress on attainment in schools, reducing child poverty and so on.