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House of Commons Hansard
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07 October 2019
Volume 664

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5. What recent assessment her Department has made of trends in the level of in-work poverty. [912562]

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Since 2010, there are over 3.7 million more people in work and 730,000 fewer children growing up in workless households. About three quarters of employment growth has been in full-time work, which has been proven to substantially reduce the risk of poverty. But it is not enough to have any job; we want people to have good jobs.

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With regard to in-work poverty, 20% of people in relative poverty in 2016-17 were single people without children and 11% were couples without children. The Government have done absolutely nothing to reverse cuts to work allowances for people without children who do not have a disability. What action is the Minister going to take to tackle in-work poverty among those people?

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I totally disagree with the hon. Gentleman’s comments. We are committed to helping lone parents into a job that fits around their caring responsibilities. There are now more than 1.2 million lone parents in work. To support parents into work, the Government spend £6 billion on childcare each and every year.

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Has the Minister read the report from the Resolution Foundation that stated that

“Low pay is falling for the first time in four decades”

and that women were the biggest beneficiaries? It pointed out that since the national living wage was introduced in 2016 the percentage of employees on low pay has fallen from 20.7% to 17.1% last year.

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I thank my hon. Friend for raising that matter. I have not seen the report, so I will go away and dig it out. We have invested £8 million to develop the evidence on what works to support people to progress in work, including enhancing our operational capability to support claimants to make good decisions on job switching.

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The thing is, it is really difficult for many families in my constituency on the minimum wage, as they may have to travel quite substantial distances to be able to work, while having to meet family responsibilities at the same time. They end up not being able to do enough hours to make the whole package add up at the end of the week. How are the Government going to make sure that such families have a chance to provide for themselves? That is all they are trying to do.

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The statistics show that full-time work reduces substantially the chances of poverty. The absolute poverty rate for children where both parents work full-time is only 4%, compared with 44% where one or more parents are in work, so we need to support more people into work, and we are doing so, for example, by offering 30 hours of free childcare to parents of three and four-year-olds. The national living wage is £8.21, increasing to £10.50 by 2024, and we have taken millions out of paying tax altogether.