Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 12th December 2017.

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Photo of Lord Ouseley Lord Ouseley Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government how they intend to respond to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation's finding that 400,000 more children and 300,000 more pensioners have fallen into relative poverty since 2012–13; and what assessment they have made of (1) when, and (2) at what level, that trend will peak.

Photo of Baroness Buscombe Baroness Buscombe The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

The figures quoted in the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s report are taken directly from the Department’s Households Below Average Income (HBAI) series, which was published in March 2017. This publication also shows on an after housing costs basis over the same period 2012/13 to 2015/16, the number of people in absolute low income (where the poverty line moves with inflation), fell by 1.1m individuals, including 200,000 children and 100,000 pensioners. This shows that real incomes are increasing at the lower end of the distribution.

However we are not complacent. For children we are committed to action that tackles the root causes of child poverty and disadvantage, with policies that incentivise employment being the best route out of poverty and ultimately improving children’s long-term outcomes. Improving Lives: Helping Workless Families, includes nine national indicators to track progress in tackling the disadvantages that affect families and children. Four of these measures are set out in Primary legislation and place a duty on the Government to report annually to Parliament on the parental worklessness and educational attainment indicators. Data on the non-statutory indicators will also be published each year.

For pensioners, we are committed to protecting up to the full amounts of the basic and new State Pensions through the Triple Lock and to supporting vulnerable pensioner households with pension credit. Pensioners are also supported with Winter Fuel Payments, free TV licences for those aged 75 and over and the free bus pass.

The Department does not forecast estimates of low income, but the next HBAI publication for 2016/17 data has been pre-announced in line with National Statistics protocols and will be published by the end of March 2018. The government is committed to continue publishing this series on an annual basis.

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