Inequality and Social Mobility

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:58 pm on 12th June 2019.

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Photo of Amber Rudd Amber Rudd The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 4:58 pm, 12th June 2019

The hon. Gentleman must acknowledge, as I said earlier, that we took on an economic crisis in 2010 that required some reduction in spending, and those changes allowed us to stabilise and grow the economy. There has now been an acknowledgment that some of that money can be put back, and I am pleased that the Chancellor was able to support us in doing that.

This Government introduced the national living wage, providing the biggest pay rise for workers in 20 years, and increased it this year to £8.21 an hour, and we have also increased the personal tax allowance to £12,500. We are acting to increase female employment and economic empowerment, reaching out to marginalised women and trying to eliminate the gender pay gap. We are spending billions to ensure that opportunity and growth are spread throughout the country through our stronger towns fund and our transport investments, but we will not stop there. We have committed to finding new and better ways to analyse and tackle poverty in this country.

The Social Metrics Commission’s “A new measure of poverty for the UK” report, which the hon. Member for Wirral West mentioned, makes a compelling case for why we should look at poverty more broadly to give a more detailed picture of who is poor, their experience of poverty and their future chances of remaining in poverty or falling into it. We are working with the commission and other experts in the field to develop new experimental statistics to measure poverty, which will be published in 2020 and, in the long run, could help us to target support more effectively. It is vital that we have evidence on the effects of poverty in order to tackle it, and in the run-up to the spending review we will examine what more can be done to address poverty, particularly child poverty, and to support social mobility.