14. What recent estimate he has made of the level of household debt. (902457)
Since the financial crisis, households’ financial positions have improved. Household debt as a proportion of income has fallen to 144% in the second quarter of 2015, down from a peak of 168% in the first quarter of 2008.
I thank the Minister for her response, but a large number of my constituents have been alarmed that mistaken overpayments of working tax credits made by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs have been recovered, without warning, from their child tax credit entitlements. Is the Department’s policy now to push people into poverty and debt by punishing them for HMRC’s mistakes?
The hon. Lady might remember the terrible roll-out of working tax credits that occurred when the Labour Government were in power. I can assure her that we will continue to improve the administration of tax credits. When her party was in power, people could have a £25,000 change in their income without it affecting their tax credits. We have brought the figure down to £2,500.
The hon. Member for Havant (Mr Mak) looks animated and contented. Let’s hear from the fellow.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. Household debt will be kept low, thanks to the Government’s support for savers, including the Help to Buy ISA that was launched today. Will the Minister join me in encouraging first-time buyers and young savers to take advantage of this new Government support, which is part of the Government’s long-term economic plan?
I am delighted that, on behalf of his constituents in Havant, my hon. Friend has noticed that the Help to Buy ISA scheme launches today. Fourteen financial institutions are already offering this exciting new opportunity to save for a home, and I hope that many of his constituents will take advantage of it.
22. Citizens Advice has noted that household bills are now the chief source of the problem debt that people are seeking its help with. What will the Government do to ensure that guarantor and logbook loans are properly regulated, so that they do not simply replace payday loans as a source of poorly regulated credit that exploits the low-paid and the vulnerable? (902465)
I am sure the hon. Lady will welcome the fact that, in the last Parliament, we took steps to bring credit under the regulation of the Financial Conduct Authority. As a result of that, payday lending has dropped sharply. We are also backing credit unions in many different ways in this country, and we want to ensure that people have an opportunity to save through their workplace credit union. If she will work with me, I can assure her that we will continue to ensure that households that have the lowest proportion of debt at the moment in their repayments will continue to see their financial positions—
Order. We are enormously grateful to the Minister. We could not be more grateful.