We estimate that 65,000 families where a parent is currently working between 16 and 24 hours will be better off from being able to qualify for family credit. In the longer term, we also expect the change in the hours rule to encourage more people to take up employment and claim family credit and to be better off as a result
I welcome the extension of family credit to less well-off families. Will not it be of value to parents, particularly mothers, who will be able to go out to work while their children are at school, to the benefit of their families and themselves?
That is precisely the point which we are seeking to meet. We felt that 24 hours was rather a long time for that purpose. I ought to make it clear that, while the change in the benefit rules will be particularly useful to many lone parents, it will also help all families with children.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that this is another important step towards achieving what must eventually be the objective of all those policies: that people should not lose benefit when they behave in exactly the way that the Government seek to encourage? May we be assured that my right hon. Friend will continue to work towards that objective across the whole range of benefits?
That is an aspect of what I call the "children come first" package, to which I attach particular importance. I assure my hon. Friend that I shall continue to do everything that I can in the same direction.