Child Poverty

Oral Answers to Questions — Treasury – in the House of Commons on 29th January 2019.

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Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East

What plans he has to tackle child poverty.

Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

We are working to tackle the root causes of poverty by getting people into work and giving children the best possible education. A record number of children are now in working households and there are 630,000 fewer children in workless households than there were in 2010.

Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East

A number of Members have been involved in the children’s future food inquiry, and we have heard some shocking stories recently about children going to school hungry, packed lunches consisting of maybe two slices of white bread with nothing in between and worse stories. What is the Treasury doing to help the UK to meet the sustainable development goal on zero hunger because it seems at the moment that it is doing very little?

Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

I point out to the hon. Lady that 1 million fewer people are now in absolute poverty than were in 2010, including 300,000 fewer children, but of course we continue to look at the best way to help children in school—I know that the Department for Education is looking at this—to make sure that children are properly nourished.

Photo of Gregory Campbell Gregory Campbell Shadow DUP Spokesperson (International Development), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

The Treasury could tackle child poverty, attack the bureaucracy and help lower-paid workers across the economy in the UK by raising the level at which people begin to pay national insurance contributions as well as tax, thereby assisting local people in the economy across the United Kingdom.

Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

We are working to make sure that those on the lowest incomes keep more money in their pockets, so at the Budget we increased the amount working families will be getting on universal credit by £630 and we cut basic rate tax, to the benefit of £130, for families on those incomes.

Several hon. Members:

rose—

Photo of Chris Green Chris Green Conservative, Bolton West

Does my right hon. Friend the Minister agree that the effective marginal tax rate of 73% for one-earner married couple families with two children at 75% of the average wage is too high and should be brought down to the OECD average of about 33%?

Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

One of the reasons we introduced UC was to make sure that work always pays and we have been continually working to make the system better, reducing the taper rate. Of course we continue to look at that as we roll it out.

Photo of Lyn Brown Lyn Brown Shadow Minister (Treasury)

For heaven’s sake. In the last two years of the Labour Government, the number of children living in absolute poverty fell by 400,000. In the next seven years of Tory rule, it fell by only 100,000. At this rate it is going to take 28 years for the Tories to achieve what Labour achieved in two, and one and a half centuries to end child poverty, even without this Government’s blooming Brexit disaster. Does the Minister not understand—this ain’t success, or doesn’t she care?

Photo of Elizabeth Truss Elizabeth Truss The Chief Secretary to the Treasury

If we are going to trade statistics, at the end of the last Labour Government, 20% of young people were unemployed and 1.4 million people were on welfare and left on the scrapheap. We have record employment and the lowest unemployment since the mid-1970s. The way we are going to solve the issue of poverty is to help people get on, help people get into work and get our education levels up.