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Employment: People with Family Responsibilities

Volume 644: debated on Monday 2 July 2018

11. What steps the Government are taking to improve employment opportunities for people with family responsibilities. (906166)

17. What steps the Government are taking to improve employment opportunities for people with family responsibilities. (906174)

21. What steps the Government are taking to improve employment opportunities for people with family responsibilities. (906178)

Universal credit supports parents into work through better incentives, and through simplifying and smoothing their transition into the workplace—with UC work will always pay. Furthermore, the Government now provide more support than ever before to help parents with the costs of childcare; under UC people can now claim 85% of their costs, which compares with 70% under tax credits.

Will my hon. Friend join me in welcoming the figures from the House of Commons Library showing that since 2010 the number of children living in workless households in Greater Manchester has fallen by 7.2%? Does he agree that that is in no small part thanks to the record number of jobs created by this Government?

It will not surprise Members to know that I am more than happy to celebrate the results of that research and to thank my hon. Friend for the work she does in her constituency in promoting this, not least in being a champion for Manchester airport, where thousands of her constituents work, and where there is a strong capacity for growth and yet more jobs.

I will be very precise, Mr Speaker. Does my hon. Friend agree that the key to getting people out of poverty is work? Given that this Government have created 1,000 new jobs every single day since 2010, we have produced the key to unlock that door.

My hon. Friend has absolutely put his finger on the button. As I said in an earlier answer, in this country we have tried fighting poverty with welfare in the past and failed. The Labour Government spent some £150 billion on tax credits and hardly moved the poverty indicators at all. We have chosen the route of work as the way to human dignity, prosperity and control for people and their families. I celebrate with him the success of the entire country, and not least his constituency.

By delivering record numbers of jobs, reducing taxes, increasing childcare provision and raising wages, does my hon. Friend agree that it is this Conservative Government who are delivering for families?

We are indeed delivering for families. I know it is a joy to many in this House to hear a voice of optimism from Southport at last, from a new Member who works closely with his local business community, recommending that its prosperity lies at the heart of that of many of his constituents. We know that outcomes for children, in particular, are significantly improved if the adults in the household are working and that children in workless families are more than twice as likely to fail to achieve at school.

Ministers will know from the experience of women born in the 1950s that giving people advance notice of changes means they have time to plan. Given that in 2019 families in work with more than two children are set to lose their universal credit support for their third child, what steps is the Department taking to let people know in advance so that they have time to plan?

As the hon. Gentleman knows, there are no cash losers from this policy: anybody who has an existing third child will continue to retain their support, and that will be preserved as they transition on to UC; we will continue to pay child benefit, no matter the number of children; and of course there will be significant childcare assistance for those who move on to UC.

Is it not the case that universal credit claimants with family responsibilities could face a sanction for refusing a job offer with a zero-hours contract? Is it not also the case that the Government are forcing people into insecure, low-paid work?

The whole point of the new constructive relationship between work coaches and their clients is that they are able to take people’s personal circumstances into account, particularly in respect of children and childcare responsibilities. If sanctions are required, they are at all times reasonable and commensurate with the person’s circumstances. The enormous assistance that we are giving for childcare should hopefully overcome any barriers, but if the hon. Gentleman has constituency cases that he would like to bring to my attention, I would be more than happy to look at them.