Jobs and Social Security

Part of Opposition Day — [11th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 4:19 pm on 28th November 2012.

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Photo of Liam Byrne Liam Byrne Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 4:19 pm, 28th November 2012

Let me give the hon. Gentleman some statistics. If he looked at the amount spent on benefits in 1996-97, he would find that it came to about £51 billion, excluding pensions. By the time we reach 2009-10, that had fallen to £44 billion, so I am afraid that no matter how he looks at it, the truth is that the amount spent on out-of-work benefits over the course of Labour’s period in office fell by £7.5 billion. The hon. Gentleman is a member of a party that has presided over an increase in the projected welfare spend by £20 billion, and there are something like 8,000 families in his constituency that are now seeing their tax credits either frozen or cut to pay for that cost of failure. I wonder how he is going to explain that to his constituents as we get closer to the next election.

It is not simply people in work who are paying the bill. We now know that about 6 million families are working, yet are still in poverty. There is another group of our constituents that we must worry about, too—those constituents who are disabled yet are set to lose something like £6.7 billion of help over the course of this Parliament to help pay for the failure to get Britain back to work. These benefits are being taken away, without any cumulative assessment of their combined impact, and these cuts total more than the Government are taking away from banks. That, I am afraid, is a sorry indictment of this Government’s values.