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Poverty Levels in Scotland

Volume 725: debated on Tuesday 20 December 2022

5. What recent assessment he has made of the potential impact of his policies on levels of poverty in Scotland. (902881)

The Chancellor published the “Impact on households” document alongside the autumn statement 2022, containing analysis of how policy announcements affect household incomes. The results show that the autumn statement decisions on tax, welfare and changes to the energy price guarantee in 2023-24 benefit low-income households across the UK, including Scottish households, the most. The autumn statement announced further support targeted at 8 million of the most vulnerable households across the UK, who will benefit from additional cost of living payments in 2023-24.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that, by October this year, one in five households in Scotland had already had to go without food or without heat because they could not afford both—and that was before the recent severe cold snap. The JRF also described the Scottish child payment, introduced by an SNP Government, as

“a watershed moment in tackling poverty”.

Does the Minister have any plans to speak to the Scottish Government to find out how the Scottish child payment works so it can be introduced here? Who knows—they might give him some tips on how to avoid a nurse’s strike at the same time.

I am, as ever, grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his advice. Of course, we engage closely with the Scottish Government. The latest official statistics from the Department for Work and Pensions, based on data up to 2019-20, show that, compared with 2009-10, there were 55,000 fewer people in absolute poverty after housing costs in Scotland. But I think the key point is that we are supporting everyone in every single part of the UK with their energy bills this winter. It is a challenging time, but our extraordinary help is making a real difference.