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Welfare Support: Kettering

Volume 656: debated on Monday 18 March 2019

6. How many people in Kettering constituency receive (a) personal independence payment, (b) employment and support allowance and (c) universal credit. (909834)

I am pleased to say that since 2013 the number of people claiming unemployment-related benefits in Kettering has decreased by over a third. The latest published statistics show that there are 3,520 people on PIP in Kettering, 35% of whom are getting the highest rates, compared with 14% of working-age disability living allowance recipients in the area when PIP was introduced.

It is taking too long for those who are refused PIP to successfully appeal against the decision. Across the country, it takes 190 days, and the worst 10% of cases in the east midlands now take 300 days. What percentage of PIP refusals are successfully overturned on appeal?

I share my hon. Friend’s concern that it is taking too long, and that too many appeals are indeed overturned. That is why I committed in my most recent statement to making sure that we look again at mandatory considerations to make them more effective, so that we can start to reverse this. I share his concerns and I am addressing the issue.

By his deployment of the words, “Across the country”, the hon. Member for Kettering (Mr Hollobone) has helpfully enabled the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman) to come in on this question, as it now refers to a wider area, and not simply to Kettering.

The Secretary of State is a fair-minded person. This morning, I have been looking at her constituency stats, the Kettering stats, and my stats in Huddersfield. However, I appeal to her to raise her vision beyond just the stats and the data, and to look at the evidence from children’s charities such as Action for Children, which will tell her that in her patch, in Kettering and in my patch, child poverty has not diminished.

I am very mindful of what we are delivering on the ground to individual constituents, families and children. We attempt, we hope, to protect the vulnerable and help people into work, but I know that my Department has a part to play in reducing poverty, and I am focused on that.