The decision to freeze most working-age benefits for four years from 2016-17 was one of a number of difficult financial decisions that were taken, but to assist claimants who are affected by debt, the Government announced, as part of the 2018 Budget package, a reduction from 40% to 30% in the maximum rate at which deductions can be made from universal credit awards. That change will help 290,000 claimants.
I thank the Minister for his reply. This morning, the Select Committee on Work and Pensions visited Charles Dickens Primary School in my constituency to talk to parents, children and teachers about the impact that the benefits freeze and other welfare cuts have had on local families, many of whom have been pushed into debt, poverty and destitution as a direct result of Government policy. Will the Government listen to the Select Committee and lift the benefits freeze one year early?
The Government have been very responsive to representations over the last two Budgets. There are 637,000 fewer children in workless households than in 2010. We made a number of interventions in the last Budget to increase the availability of interest-free advance loans to those who need them. We are listening, and continue to listen, to the concerns of the sector.