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Household Incomes

Volume 604: debated on Wednesday 6 January 2016

7. What assessment he has made of the effect on household incomes in Scotland of the changes to welfare announced in the summer budget 2015 and the spending review and autumn statement 2015. (902849)

The analysis published at spending review 2015 shows that more than half of all spending on welfare and public services goes to the poorest 40% of households in the UK. That has not changed as a result of the Government’s policies since 2010.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies estimates that by 2020 more than 2.5 million working families on universal credit will, on average, be £1,600 a year worse off owing to the cuts to the work allowance in universal credit. My constituents know how that is going to damage them, but do the Secretary of State and the Minister have the first clue as to how many of those families will be in Scotland and what the scale of the impact will be on them?

The best way to help working households in this country is to ensure that we have a job-creating economy; that wages go up; that we introduce a national living wage that will help millions of people; and that we have a secure and stable economy. That is what this Government are delivering. [Interruption.]

Order. Household incomes in Scotland will be of intense interest, not least to people living in Scotland. We must hear the questions and the answers.

In a recent written parliamentary question to the Secretary of State, I asked:

“what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on the introduction of the Work and Health Programme in Scotland.”

His response was a masterful example of how not to answer, which is what we have seen again today. Will he now take the opportunity to tell the House whether he has bothered to discuss with the Department for Work and Pensions how this new programme will affect my constituents?

This Government are making reforms to the welfare system—we are making sure that work always pays. We do have to ensure that the system is affordable, but may I remind the hon. Lady that the Scotland Bill gives the Scottish Government the powers to top up benefits and introduce new benefits?