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Social Security Spending: Working Households

Volume 633: debated on Monday 18 December 2017

16. What assessment his Department has made of trends in the level of spending on social security for working households since 2015. (902993)

Since 2015, the level of social security spending for families on in-work benefits has reduced from £28.9 billion to £26.7 billion in real terms. This has happened during a period when we have introduced the national living wage, employment has reached record levels, free childcare has doubled, the personal allowance has increased and income inequality has continued to fall.

With 8 million people living in poverty in working households and 28% of my constituents earning below the voluntary living wage, what action is the Secretary of State taking to address labour market inequalities with low-paid, low-skilled and insecure work?

Let me give the hon. Lady two examples. First, there is the industrial strategy. Secondly, if we want to address in-work poverty, one way in which we can do that is to ensure that people are able to work extra hours. We need a benefits system that does not trap them in working 16 hours a week, because if they can work extra hours, they can increase their income.

Looking back over these trends, has the Secretary of State drawn the conclusion that every Labour Government leaves office with higher unemployment than when they took office? What impact does he believe that that has on working families?

My hon. Friend makes an extremely good point. We heard a very revealing comment earlier when it was said from the Labour Front Bench that work is not the route out of poverty. If work is not the route out of poverty, exactly what is?