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People on Lower Incomes: Financial Support

Volume 732: debated on Tuesday 9 May 2023

The Government are taking action to protect struggling families by providing support, worth £3,300 per household on average over this year and last, to help with higher bills. That includes targeted support for the most vulnerable in our society through additional cost of living payments and the uprating of benefits by 10.1% this year. The Government have also increased the national living wage by 9.7%, representing an increase of more than £1,600 in the annual earnings of a full-time worker on the national living wage.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the best support in the cost of living crisis, beyond the £94 billion that the Government have already spent, is the cutting of inflation to ease pressures—especially on food, fuel and energy—for families in Rother Valley and up and down the country?

I absolutely agree. The Government are doing three things to reduce inflation: we are remaining steadfast in supporting the independent Monetary Policy Committee at the Bank of England as it continues to take action to return inflation to target; we are making responsible decisions on tax and spending, so that we are not adding fuel to the fire; and we are tackling high energy prices by holding down energy bills for households and businesses, alongside investing in long-term energy security.

Lowest-income households in my constituency are the biggest beneficiaries of a strong economy. Does my right hon. Friend agree that reducing debt, reducing inflation and balancing the books are the most effective Government interventions to support low-income households?

Absolutely. It is right that we continue support for the cost of living challenges. I have mentioned the energy price guarantee; we are also sticking to that plan to avoid unnecessary inflationary pressure. [Interruption.] On average this year, as a result of Government decisions made from—[Interruption.]

Order. Members will have to continue their conversations at another time. Carry on, Minister.

As a result of Government decisions made from autumn statement 2022 onwards, households in the bottom half of the income distribution will see, in cash terms, twice as much benefit from Government support as households in the top half of the income distribution.

I listened with interest to the answer that the Minister gave about support for households, but it does not match the reality in Rotherham, where constituents have had increases in rent, mortgages, fuel and food, as well as cuts to public services. What is he going to do to deliver the support that we need to make ends meet, because the offers on the table are not cutting it?

Everyone can see that the Government have made a range of interventions over the past two years, which means support for all of those on means-tested benefits—8 million people. Eight million pensioner households will benefit from the non-discretionary payments, effectively. The household support fund, which we repeated, provides another £1 billion to give local authorities discretion in individual circumstances to offer supplementary support. Of course, I recognise that this is an incredibly challenging time for the most vulnerable, but we have tried to target those interventions on them, listening to the Low Pay Commission and increasing the national living wage to £10.42. We recognise that these are difficult times, but we will get through them.