In-work Benefits

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 9th January 2013.

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Photo of Gregg McClymont Gregg McClymont Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) 11:30 am, 9th January 2013

How many people in Scotland will be affected by the Government’s plan to limit the uprating of in-work benefits to 1%.

Photo of Ann McKechin Ann McKechin Labour, Glasgow North

How many people in Scotland will be affected by the Government’s plan to limit the uprating of in-work benefits to 1%.

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

Yesterday the Department for Work and Pensions published an impact assessment for the Welfare Benefits Up-rating Bill, which states that about 30% of all households will be affected by the measures contained in the Bill.

Photo of Gregg McClymont Gregg McClymont Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions)

I thank the Minister for that answer. Even after changes to tax allowances, a single-earner household with children in my constituency will be £534 a year worse off by April 2015. With that priority in mind, does the Minister still believe that the Government should go ahead with their priority of a £2,000 a week tax cut for millionaires?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

What I believe is that the Government should continue to work to sort out the mess in the economy that the hon. Gentleman’s Labour Government left behind. The measures announced yesterday will save £5 billion and he and his colleagues have not given any answers as to where they would find such savings if they did not implement those changes.

Photo of Ann McKechin Ann McKechin Labour, Glasgow North

One in five working families in Scotland who rely on tax credits will see a cut in their real income as a result of these changes. Many of them rely on low-paid, temporary and part-time jobs when, in fact, they want permanent, full-time jobs. What steps will the Minister take in 2013 to tackle the scourge of under-employment in Scotland?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

The Secretary of State will work with the Scottish Government and stakeholders in Scotland to set up an employability forum, which will look at the two Governments and all interested parties in Scotland working together to ensure that we get more people into full-time employment.

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Conservative, Epping Forest

Does the Minister agree that, for better or worse, the Scottish economy is part of the UK economy, and that the economy of our whole country will not improve unless and until we bring public spending under control?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. The benefits issue is an example of where, simply to curry favour with the electorate, the SNP Scottish Government are making promises that they could not possibly keep in an independent Scotland.

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

Will the Minister tell the House how many members of the armed forces in Scotland will see their incomes cut as a result of last night’s vote?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

Last night’s vote was about ensuring that we have a sustainable welfare system. The hon. Lady’s answer on all these issues is more borrowing, more spending and more debt. She cannot say how she would fund the rises in benefit for which she voted.

Photo of Margaret Curran Margaret Curran Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

What a disappointing answer. The answer is 4,000 members of the armed forces. There might be a Liberal Democrat leading the Scotland Office, but Scots can see that this Government are just the same old Tories. In 2010, the Department told us that it had absolutely no desire to see people losing their jobs or being in worse circumstances than they were in before. Will the Minister explain why the Government are failing the test that they set themselves?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

What the people of Scotland know is that it is the same old Labour: there is no apology for the mess that it left the economy in and its only proposal is more spending, more borrowing and more debt.

Photo of Eilidh Whiteford Eilidh Whiteford Shadow SNP Spokesperson (International Development), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Women), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Work and Pensions), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Agriculture and Fisheries)

It will come as no surprise to the Minister to learn that I opposed the cap on in-work benefits last night because it will hammer thousands of families in Scotland who are trying to bring up children while working hard in low-paid jobs. However, does he share my surprise that some senior MPs, including members of the last Labour Government, who left his Government with an almighty mess in the public finances, did not even turn up to vote last night?

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

Nothing that SNP Members say or do surprises me. The SNP’s position is totally hypocritical. The Scottish Government are asking nurses and NHS workers to take a 1% pay rise, yet they want benefits to rise by more than that.