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Poverty

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 13th February 2020.

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Photo of Alex Sobel Alex Sobel Labour/Co-operative, Leeds North West

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the implications for his policies of the findings of the February 2020 Joseph Rowntree Foundation report entitled UK Poverty 2019-2020 that 56 per cent of people living in poverty were also in a working household in 2018; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of Will Quince Will Quince The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

There is clear evidence about the importance of work in tackling poverty now and in the future. For example, a child growing up in a home where all adults are working is around 5 times less likely to be in poverty than a child in a household where nobody works. The majority of people in in-work poverty either work solely part-time, are the single earner in a couple, or are full-time self-employed.

Delivering a sustainable long-term solution to poverty means building a strong economy and ensuring that the benefit system works with the tax system and the labour market to support employment and higher pay. There are over 1 million fewer workless households compared with 2010, with around 730,000 fewer children in workless households, and over 3.8 million more people have entered work, averaging around 1,000 people a day. Around three-quarters of the growth in employment since 2010 has been in full-time work. Our unemployment rate is now less than half the Euro area average. Around three-quarters of the growth in employment since 2010 has been in full-time work, substantially reducing the risk of poverty.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation reported that Universal Credit is likely to help an extra 300,000 members of working families out of poverty.

Universal Credit is designed to help people move into work faster, stay in work longer and spend more time looking to increase their earnings. It provides more financial help with childcare costs (eligible claimants are able to claim up to 85 per cent of their childcare costs, compared to 70% on the legacy system), a dedicated Work Coach, and removes the 16-hour ‘cliff edge for those who are working. We are confident that, as UC reaches more working families, we will see more people working full-time and ultimately achieving independence from the State.

We will continue to reform the welfare system so that it promotes work as the most effective route out of poverty and is fairer towards those who receive it and the taxpayers who pay for it. We also want to identify opportunities to create a highly productive workforce, improving progression prospects for the lowest paid people so everyone has the right skills to meet the UK’s future demand. That is why we are delivering a significant programme of research and testing to build the evidence of how to overcome the obstacles that people face so that they can improve their earnings and career prospects.

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