Universal Credit

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:07 pm on 17th October 2018.

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Photo of Esther McVey Esther McVey The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 1:07 pm, 17th October 2018

My hon. Friend is right that unemployment has fallen by more than half in the north-west. I am surprised that Margaret Greenwood did not know that but, then again, the Opposition are not always too hot on their figures.

I want to give another important piece of information. Labour’s position on the Welfare Reform and Work Bill in 2016 was, through the Labour Whip, to abstain on the changes. Some of them broke the Whip, but the position was to abstain, and this is why: in 1997-98, the welfare cost per household was £5,603 but, by 2010-11, when Labour left office, that figure had gone up to £8,350—up by nearly £3,000 per household. That is why everybody agreed in principle that universal credit was the way forward and that we had to get the benefit bill under control.