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Poverty in Liverpool — [Mr Gary Streeter in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:48 pm on 24th October 2018.

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Photo of Justin Tomlinson Justin Tomlinson The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 3:48 pm, 24th October 2018

It is a real pleasure to serve under your chairmanship again, Mr Streeter. I pay tribute to Luciana Berger and all hon. Members who contributed to the debate. I clearly do not agree with all the points they made—I am sure they will not agree with everything I am about to say—but it is crystal clear that every one of them is driven by a passion to protect the most vulnerable people in society. We all want the same result; we just disagree about how to get from A to B. I am conscious that hon. Members mentioned lots of different issues. I am merely a junior Minister in the Department for Work and Pensions, so in the limited time I have got, I will try to cover the points about employment, income and poverty, universal credit, migration and food banks. If time permits, I will also cover some of the other points that fall at least roughly within my area.

All speakers acknowledged that we have seen record employment, with 1,000 new jobs created every day, unemployment at record lows, and 964,000 fewer workless households. That is important because research statistics show that workless households are four times more likely to be in poverty. I will come to the specific points made during the debate about that.

Many of the speakers mentioned that there had been an increase in zero-hours contracts, for example. That is not the case: the number of zero-hours contracts actually fell by over 100,000 in the last year alone, and they represent only 2.4% of total employment, which is around the same level as under the last Labour Government.