Working People’s Income: Universal Credit

Oral Answers to Questions — Work and Pensions – in the House of Commons on 13th May 2019.

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Photo of Steve Double Steve Double Conservative, St Austell and Newquay

What steps her Department has taken to increase working people’s income through universal credit in this financial year.

Photo of Amber Rudd Amber Rudd The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

That is such a relevant question from my hon. Friend. The key difference between the legacy system and the universal credit system is that work coaches provide such a tailored, individual service, which will give his constituents the additional support they need to make sure they get the best financial reward from their work this year.

Photo of Steve Double Steve Double Conservative, St Austell and Newquay

Cornwall has a higher than average number of self-employed people—about 60% higher than the English average. Being self-employed and claiming universal credit can present a number of challenges, particularly in the early years when starting out. What specific help are we giving to self-employed people who need to claim universal credit?

Photo of Amber Rudd Amber Rudd The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

It is good to hear from my hon. Friend quite how enterprising his county is. I reassure him that work coaches provide additional support to allow those who want to become self-employed to do so via the new enterprise allowance, which provides mentoring support and additional financial support. We announced in the last Budget a one-year grace period from the minimum income floor for claimants joining universal credit with an existing business. All these efforts try to make sure that his constituents, and other people throughout the country, are able to set up their businesses and work self-employed and get access to universal credit.

Photo of Clive Betts Clive Betts Chair, Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee

I am sure that the Secretary of State has seen the comments made by the Children’s Commissioner based on research carried out by Policy in Practice, which found that the number of children in families running a monthly deficit is expected to double in some areas as a result of the introduction of universal credit. Does she accept that this is completely disgraceful, and what is she going to do about it?

Photo of Amber Rudd Amber Rudd The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

I reassure the hon. Gentleman that we care enormously about ensuring that there are fewer children in poverty than before. There are fewer children in poverty and fewer families in poverty since 2010. As we know, the best way to help people out of poverty is to ensure that families have work. I am ambitious to ensure that people in low-paid work can get into higher-paid work, which is why I made the announcements last week, ensuring that work coaches can give additional support.