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Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:11 pm on 29th March 2010.

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Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) (Digital Britain) (also HM Treasury), Financial Secretary (HM Treasury) (also in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) 9:11 pm, 29th March 2010

A lot of things have happened that have ensured that the claimant count has not reached the levels of the past. Part of that is undoubtedly because of flexibility-people being willing to reduce their hours-and that has been supported to a significant extent by the tax credits system, which has ensured offsetting payments if income is reduced. The incomes of some 400,000 families have been increased through tax credits to offset a reduction in earned income. The hon. Gentleman makes a fair point about the operation of the means-tested system, which has been in place for a long time, but however we look at it, it is undoubtedly the case that, in employment terms, the damage from the recession that we have been through has been a great deal less than that from the recessions of the 1980s and the 1990s.

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