Department for Work and Pensions

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:08 pm on 2nd July 2019.

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Photo of Alison McGovern Alison McGovern Chair, Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art 2:08 pm, 2nd July 2019

My hon. Friend has made his point well. We all know that the DWP is failing because we see it every day, but why is that failure happening? I think it is pretty obvious from the DWP’s policies that it has radically misunderstood poverty. While its aims and objectives in dealing with poverty are all absolutely worthwhile and worthy, they will never get to the root cause of it.

The DWP’s policy paper sets out its next steps for action on poverty. It wants to help through the troubled families programme, and it wants to identify people with complex needs. It talks about addiction, and it talks about education. The problem is that while those are factors in people’s lives that are associated with poverty—of course lower educational achievement is a risk for people who grow up in poverty, and of course addiction is a problem in communities that have less wealth—it is possible to do very well at school and still be poor, and it is possible to be poor and not addicted to anything. It is possible for people to have excellent family relationships, to look after each other and be able to take care of their families, but still to suffer the consequences of low incomes, because the root cause of poverty is not any of those other things; it is not having enough money. What my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry South said about poverty wages was right, and that is why the DWP must change course.