Family Incomes

Oral Answers to Questions — Treasury – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1 March 2001.

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Photo of Mrs Helen Jackson Mrs Helen Jackson Labour, Sheffield, Hillsborough 12:00, 1 March 2001

What measures he is taking to increase the incomes of families with children. [150135]

Photo of Dawn Primarolo Dawn Primarolo Paymaster General (HM Treasury)

The Government are committed to supporting all families, recognising the extra costs and responsibilities that come with parenthood and targeting resources at those who need them most, when they need them most. As a result of measures introduced during this Parliament, families with children will be on average £8.50 a year better off.

Photo of Mrs Helen Jackson Mrs Helen Jackson Labour, Sheffield, Hillsborough

Does my hon. Friend agree that raising the income of families with children depends on our having a stable economy where industry and public services thrive and everyone has the chance of a good job? Does she further agree that the Government's determination to eliminate child poverty through progressive fiscal policies and the working families tax credit must work alongside the statutory minimum wage, which must be maintained or even enhanced so that employers can play their part too?

Photo of Dawn Primarolo Dawn Primarolo Paymaster General (HM Treasury)

I agree with my hon. Friend that the national minimum wage has an important role to play in raising the income of all those in work, particularly families, but I stress that the working families tax credit, particularly in respect of child care costs, the increase in child benefit and the introduction of the children's tax credit in April will make a huge contribution to the budgets of working families and ensure that the Government and employers play their part in tackling poverty in our society.

Photo of Mr Ian Bruce Mr Ian Bruce Conservative, South Dorset

Surely the Minister will have seen the helpful leaflet that was produced by the citizens advice bureaux telling us just what a mess the Government are making of the working families tax credit. Has she spoken to her colleagues in the Department of Social Security who believe that the Treasury is making a mess of it and will she look again to see whether she can actually help working parents? Clearly, as always, the Treasury has been all spin and no delivery.

Photo of Dawn Primarolo Dawn Primarolo Paymaster General (HM Treasury)

I would recommend that the hon. Gentleman reads the whole of the CAB report. If he does, he will see that it welcomes the working families tax credit and acknowledges that 1.1 million families are being helped to the tune of £30 a week or more, compared with what they received under family credit. That is a contribution to the reduction in child poverty. The CAB report identified that, of the 90,000 calls that the bureaux received, there were only a handful of exceptional cases, and it gave one example involving a bad employer.

I repeat to the hon. Gentleman what I said to the CAB. The working families tax credit has built-in protection against bad employers, but the overwhelming majority of employers welcome it and recognise the contribution that it makes to enabling their work force to stay in work, particularly by helping with child care costs, and to reducing child poverty, which the previous Government forced to increase.