Benefits Freeze

Oral Answers to Questions — Treasury – in the House of Commons on 5th March 2019.

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Photo of Neil Coyle Neil Coyle Labour, Bermondsey and Old Southwark

What assessment he has made of the effect of the freeze on benefits on the level of personal debt of benefit recipients.

Photo of John Glen John Glen Minister of State (Treasury) (City), The Economic Secretary to the Treasury

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.

Photo of Neil Coyle Neil Coyle Labour, Bermondsey and Old Southwark

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?

Photo of John Glen John Glen Minister of State (Treasury) (City), The Economic Secretary to the Treasury

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.