Baroness Stedman-Scott: The Government is committed to transforming the lives of disabled people, and will publish the National Strategy for Disabled People this year. It will be informed by insights from the lived experience of disabled people, and will focus on the issues that disabled people say are most important across all aspects of life. On Friday 15th January, we launched the online UK Disability Survey,...
Baroness Stedman-Scott: My Lords, where do I start? I am so proud of the work that my department has done in supporting people during the pandemic. Time does not allow me to reel off everything that we have done, but I shall list these: our plan for jobs; a £2 billion kick-start scheme; increased support for 40,000 jobseekers of all ages; sector work-based academies; the job-finding support service; the help that...
Baroness Stedman-Scott: The £20 uplift in universal credit has done an outstanding job. The Chancellor put it in place in a temporary way, and I guess tomorrow we will find out the intentions for the future. But please be assured that I am very happy to go back to the Chancellor and share the views of the noble Baroness and many others who have made that point.
Baroness Stedman-Scott: The right reverend Prelate makes an important point. The £20 uplift has made a significant difference and, like the noble Baroness, Lady Sherlock, he has outlined some of the impacts that would happen should that be stopped. I am terribly sorry, and I wish it were not the case, but I do not have the Chancellor’s ability to make a commitment today.
Baroness Stedman-Scott: I thank my noble friend for her acknowledgement of the difference that the £20 has made. I had better say now: “Message received, over and out”. I will relay it and replay it to my colleagues in the department and the Chancellor.
Baroness Stedman-Scott: A number of groups of individuals have been impacted by Covid and their incomes have been put under stress. The department continually reviews the impact on people but this is a timely reminder for me to go back and make some more representation, which I will do.
Baroness Stedman-Scott: Legacy benefits and the £20 uplift have been the subject of lengthy and great discussions in the department. To be absolutely straight and truthful, the only thing I can say is that the Government have no plans to extend the temporary £20 uplift. I know that that will be a disappointment.
Baroness Stedman-Scott: I give an assurance to the noble Baroness that I will speak to her in more depth about the points she raises. Once I have done that, I will of course go back to the department and talk to those there.
Baroness Stedman-Scott: I say to my noble friend and the whole House that we should thank God that we have work coaches. Their training has been enhanced, they are focused on the individual and they make sure that those individuals get the support and access to the benefits that they need. More importantly than anything else, they are getting access to the help they need to get back to work. Universal credit was...
Baroness Stedman-Scott: The noble Lord is right to raise the point about people who try to abuse the system with no right to do so. The situation with fraud and recovering sums is being dealt with in the department. To give the best response in the time I have available, I will write to the noble Lord and place a copy of the letter in the Library.
Baroness Stedman-Scott: I not sure where the noble Lord gets his figures from; I do not dispute them, but I will have to go back and have a good look. The universal credit business case was agreed in 2018 and demonstrated that it remains deliverable and affordable, and provides value for money. In a steady state, universal credit will generate economic value of £8 billion per year, and it is doing a great job.
Baroness Stedman-Scott: The Government are currently negotiating social security agreements with the EEA and the EFTA countries—Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland—which aim to broadly mirror the new agreement with the EU. The UK state pension has been uprated in these countries as part of the long-standing provision which was in EU law before the UK left the EU, and the Government are seeking to...
Baroness Stedman-Scott: The UK has different social security arrangements with different Commonwealth countries. While some bilateral agreements provide for uprating, others do not. I am very happy to meet with the noble Lord to discuss this further if it helps him.
Baroness Stedman-Scott: The noble Lord is as impatient as ever, and so are we, to resolve this issue. The Government received a request from Canada in November 2020 to conclude a reciprocal agreement to include indexation of pensions. We will be responding shortly.
Baroness Stedman-Scott: The decision to move abroad is voluntary and a personal choice dependent on the circumstances of the individual. For many years now, advice has been provided on the GOV.UK website that the UK state pension is not uprated overseas, except where there is a legal requirement to do so.
Baroness Stedman-Scott: I regret that I do not have figures for how many Windrush victims have been impacted. The UK state pension is payable worldwide and members of the Windrush generation who have chosen to leave the UK and have reached state pension age will receive annual index-linked increases if they reside in a country where there is a legal requirement to uprate, such as Barbados or Jamaica.
Baroness Stedman-Scott: The state pension has been uprated in the EU as part of long-standing provisions in EU law before the UK left the EU. The withdrawal agreement ensures that state pensioners who had already moved to the EU to retire while the UK was a member state will continue to have their state pensions uprated.
Baroness Stedman-Scott: The UK Government have continued to honour their legal obligations in relation to uprating pensions overseas. While I realise this will be disappointing, we have no plans to change that policy at the moment.
Baroness Stedman-Scott: I am sorry, I do not agree that I have given contradictory answers. I say again that the Government have no plans to change their policy on this. When people retire to different countries, information about the impact on their pensions is made very clear to them.
Baroness Stedman-Scott: As I have already said, the Government intend to respond to the Canadian Government shortly. We are committed to ensuring that older people can live with the dignity and respect they deserve. The state pension is the foundation of support for them.