Working Tax Credits

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:23 pm on 30th November 2011.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith The Economic Secretary to the Treasury 4:23 pm, 30th November 2011

Let me move on to the change that the hon. Gentleman highlighted, which is the move from 16 to 24 hours. As he explained, under the current system couples with children can claim working tax credit if one partner works 16 hours a week. The hon. Gentleman will know that at the moment lone parents must also work at least 16 hours to qualify for the working tax credit. As he said, however, under the 2010 spending review, from April next year couples with children will have to work 24 hours between them, with at least one partner working 16. In response to the interventions made, this change makes the system fairer by reducing that disparity between couples and lone parents. I would not like to stand here to defend why those two groups should be treated differently. I can see the hon. Member for Stalybridge and Hyde twitching but I must move on in order to tackle two of the points he specifically asked me to address.

There are exemptions where couples may have a limited capability to work. That means that couples with children will continue to qualify for working tax credit where one member works at least 16 hours a week and that person is eligible for the working tax credit disability element. In addition, there will be an exemption for some couples with children where only one member works at least 16 hours a week and the other adult does not work, for example where one adult is incapacitated. A couple with children will continue to qualify for working tax credit at 16 hours if one partner is in receipt of disability living allowance.

Moving on to how else we can increase support for lower and middle income earners and improve the rewards to work. On work incentives, which I said I would cover, universal credit has already been mentioned and it is in that area—