Frozen Benefits

Oral Answers to Questions — Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st November 2016.

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Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 12:00 am, 21st November 2016

What steps the Government are taking to mitigate the effect of projected levels of inflation on the spending power of frozen benefits.

Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

The Government are committed to the creation of jobs and making work pay. We know that work is the best route out of poverty, and that is why our welfare reforms are focused on supporting people into work, rather than leaving them to rely on benefits.

Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

It is interesting that that answer does not necessarily address the question that I asked.

Last week, the Institute for Fiscal Studies highlighted the impact that weaker sterling will have on the cost of many of the essentials for which welfare benefits pay—clothing and food. It estimates that inflation for those items could be 2.7% next year. These circumstances were neither known nor anticipated when the decision was made to freeze benefits, so should they not themselves be the catalyst for a review of the decision?

Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that inflation was in fact down last month. What is really important is that we support people who can work into jobs, and into better jobs—that is the whole premise behind universal credit. We know that getting people into work lifts them out of poverty. Our reforms include increasing the national living wage to £9 an hour by 2020, cutting income tax for more than 30 million people and, of course, the roll-out of universal credit.