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Written Answers — House of Lords: Occupational Pensions (24 July 2014)

Lord Freud: Information on the proportions of employees with workplace pensions is collected in the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings and published on the ONS website. http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/ashe/annual-survey-of-hours-an d-earnings-pension-tables/2013-provisional-results/index.htm l Figure 1 shows that overall for the UK, 49.8 per cent of employees were members of workplace pension schemes in...

Written Answers — House of Lords: Social Security Benefits (24 July 2014)

Lord Freud: Statistics on how many people have made use of the “system of advances” is not currently available. Information on how many people have been helped by “local support frameworks” is not readily available and could only be provided at disproportionate cost. Our Local Authority partners are supporting claimants through our local delivery partnerships, and feedback from...

Written Answers — House of Lords: Universal Credit (24 July 2014)

Lord Freud: We recently consulted on the proposal to increase the rate of rent arrears deductions in Universal Credit. We are currently considering the consultation responses. Deductions from Universal Credit are made after considering the claimant’s individual circumstances and ability to afford the deductions. The maximum that can be deducted for all deductions, including rent arrears, is an...

Housing: Underoccupancy Charge — Question (22 July 2014)

Lord Freud: We inherited a housing benefit system with costs spiralling and took steps to bring expenditure under control. This remains our policy. The interim report establishes an early baseline. Since the field work was completed, the numbers affected by the policy have continued to fall month on month, reported levels of arrears experienced by English housing associations have fallen, and there is...

Housing: Underoccupancy Charge — Question (22 July 2014)

Lord Freud: This report was based on evidence from last autumn and we have had data since then that show that people are adapting. The numbers affected are falling and are now down 70,000 people; arrears have fallen in the past two quarters and rent collection remains for the Homes and Communities Agency for the social sector at 99%; homelessness numbers are reducing and are down 7% on the year. As for...

Housing: Underoccupancy Charge — Question (22 July 2014)

Lord Freud: My Lords, the private sector had the LHA introduced, as my noble friend pointed out, by the previous Government. We had to take steps to constrain the spending on that. We have taken 2 billion out of that benefit for savings. The results of that also came out last week. The final report was dramatically less in its impact than the predictions that we had. Instead of landlords pulling...

Housing: Underoccupancy Charge — Question (22 July 2014)

Lord Freud: My Lords, I have told the House on previous occasions that the difference here is that there is very little changeover or moving within this particular group, so there is no way in which one could introduce this kind of policy on that kind of basis. It therefore has to apply to stock. I remind noble Lords that the impact assessment for this measure envisaged moving or downsizing on the part...

Housing: Underoccupancy Charge — Question (22 July 2014)

Lord Freud: The report was an early look at the policy. As the research says, it provides a baseline. There is evidence of people looking for work—18% of those affected are looking to earn more in work and 50% of the unemployed are doing so. As I told the House last week, the number of people in workless households in social housing is dropping dramatically. People are moving, as I just said....

Jobseeker’s Allowance — Question (21 July 2014)

Lord Freud: My Lords, the employment rate has never been higher and the inactivity rate has never been lower. There are a record 30.6 million people in work and the number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance has fallen for 20 consecutive months. It is down by more than 400,000 on the year to 1.04 million.

Jobseeker’s Allowance — Question (21 July 2014)

Lord Freud: Since 2010, 1.8 million people have got jobs. Nearly 80% of that growth was outside London, with all regions being up in that period. As for the role of benefit reforms in our economic recovery, my view—this is something that statisticians will work on for some time—is that we are beginning to move into some of the structural problems that we have had for many years now, and are...

Jobseeker’s Allowance — Question (21 July 2014)

Lord Freud: I think it would be pointless to slow down universal credit, which is now rolling out smoothly. This year, we are rolling it out right the way through the north-west, moving through couples and families. Any delay to that process withdraws support from the people who need it. We have, however, rolled out the claimant commitment, which is part of universal credit, right through the country....

Jobseeker’s Allowance — Question (21 July 2014)

Lord Freud: The self-employment figures are up strongly, but I need to point out that 60% of the gain in self-employment since 2010 has been in higher-skilled, managerial and professional jobs. It is interesting, when you look at real, living wages, that recent settlements have moved above inflation. There is a lot of variation within the pay settlements, and those in finance and business services have...

Jobseeker’s Allowance — Question (21 July 2014)

Lord Freud: Apprenticeships are a cornerstone of this Government. Overall, we have had more than 1.1 million extra apprenticeships for youngsters since the election—a 40% increase on the equivalent period before the election, although I acknowledge that the previous Government were also pushing up the apprenticeship rate.

Jobseeker’s Allowance — Question (21 July 2014)

Lord Freud: A vigorous debate is going on among economists about what has happened to productivity. The most interesting study that I have seen lately was from the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, and one of his colleagues, which looked at productivity as a cyclical impact, which we should be able to get through later on.

Jobseeker’s Allowance — Question (21 July 2014)

Lord Freud: I did not need a huge amount of preparation for this Question because it is a slam dunk. The figures for employment are very good. If you are looking at part-timers, the number who do not want to be full time are down by 1.5 percentage points—the fastest decline on record. Depending on the figures you take, we have between 2% and 4% of people on zero-hour contracts, and the CIPD says...

Jobseeker’s Allowance — Question (21 July 2014)

Lord Freud: My noble friend asks me to remind the House that the leader of the Opposition predicted a million job losses as a result of our policies. I am very happy to remind the House of that fact.

Written Answers — House of Lords: Prisoners: Carer’s Allowance (21 July 2014)

Lord Freud: The information requested is not readily available and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Poverty and Social Exclusion — Question (17 July 2014)

Lord Freud: This report was published back in March 2013. It says that people were deprived if they could afford less than 42 out of 44 necessities. Under the Child Poverty Act, which this House spent much time on, 1.8 million children are in combined low-income and material deprivation, which is far lower than the 4 million children reported to be deprived in this report.

Poverty and Social Exclusion — Question (17 July 2014)

Lord Freud: The previous Government put through the Child Poverty Act, which we on this side of the House supported. It is based on some research that comes out regularly on households below average income. That came out last week, and it showed that the proportion of children in relative poverty is at its lowest level since the mid-1980s.

Poverty and Social Exclusion — Question (17 July 2014)

Lord Freud: The noble Baroness is completely right to concentrate on the fundamental causes of poverty, and working with youngsters is clearly right at the heart of that. That is why this Government have taken so many major steps in this area, including introducing the pupil premium and the early years pupil premium, raising teacher quality, and a number of others. I absolutely endorse her concentration...

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