Living Standards

Part of Opposition Day — [Un-allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 3:19 pm on 30th November 2011.

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Photo of Iain Duncan Smith Iain Duncan Smith The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 3:19 pm, 30th November 2011

I am going to move on.

The commitments made by the Chancellor in the previous Budget have to be taken into consideration, along with the ones that I have mentioned. The new offer on child care comes on top of our expansion of free nursery education for all three and four-year-olds. We are already set on a path of far-reaching reform in our welfare system, getting work incentives back in order and delivering a system that people finally understand. We will do this through the universal credit, which will in two years rebalance any of the out-of-work incentives that got out of balance, so that work pays.

The Opposition had 13 years to make the kind of changes that we are making. We have already got them under way. They will take about 350,000 children and more than 500,000 adults out of poverty. Some £7.2 billion has been invested in the fairness premium, including the pupil premium, to support the poorest in the early years and at every stage in their education. We have invested in 4,200 new health visitors.

Almost none of those changes is taken into consideration in the rather narrow way of measuring who is in poverty and who is not in poverty, particularly child poverty. This is an important point. I spoke earlier about the money and the effort that we are putting in for the poorest. The wide range of steps that we have taken is, on balance, positive. None of those has been taken into account because it is not possible at this stage to calculate the effect, but I want to do that and we ought to do so.