There have been 13 exchanges between Andrew Bridgen and Department for Work and Pensions
|Mon 9th March 2020||Oral Answers to Questions||3 interactions (23 words)|
|Mon 27th January 2020||Oral Answers to Questions||3 interactions (27 words)|
|Mon 13th May 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||3 interactions (30 words)|
|Mon 18th March 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||3 interactions (57 words)|
|Mon 11th February 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||7 interactions (75 words)|
|Mon 7th January 2019||Oral Answers to Questions||3 interactions (18 words)|
|Mon 2nd July 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||3 interactions (31 words)|
|Mon 21st May 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||3 interactions (45 words)|
|Mon 26th March 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||3 interactions (57 words)|
|Mon 5th February 2018||Oral Answers to Questions||7 interactions (89 words)|
|Mon 13th November 2017||Oral Answers to Questions||3 interactions (24 words)|
|Tue 24th October 2017||Universal Credit Roll-out||9 interactions (54 words)|
|Mon 9th October 2017||Oral Answers to Questions||3 interactions (27 words)|
First, I thank the right hon. Gentleman for all his work in this policy area. As he rightly pointed out, the change does remove any potential gap in provision, with people reaching state pension age and leaving universal credit receiving an additional £350 on average. I stress that the process is already in operation on an extra-statutory basis, ensuring that nobody loses out on reaching state pension age. Legislation will be amended accordingly later this year.
Certainly—the breathing space policy is a prime example. If my hon. Friend would like to meet me or, indeed, the Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, my hon. Friend the Member for Hexham (Guy Opperman), who is the Minister for Pensions, we would be happy to do so to set out in more detail the action that the Government are taking.
My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. The Institute for Fiscal Studies slammed Labour’s pledge to scrap universal credit as uncosted and
“unwise…expensive, disruptive and unnecessary.”
We believe that work should always pay. We need a welfare system that helps people into work, supports those who need help and is fair for everyone who pays for it. Let us remember that no Labour Government have ever left office with unemployment lower than when they started.
Absolutely. Income inequality has been falling under this Government in real terms, and the national living wage will rise to £8.72 in April and to £10.50 by 2024. My hon. Friend rightly points out that our tax changes have made basic-rate taxpayers over £1,200 better off than in 2010. We have doubled the free childcare available to working parents of three and four-year-olds to 30 hours per week, saving them up to £5,000 per year per child.
I can reassure the hon. Gentleman that we are seeing constant improvements in the rate at which pay is received by claimants as early as possible. We have ensured that advance payments are available, and I am vigilant about ensuring that the figure of 85% for those receiving the actual application on time is constantly improving.
My hon. Friend asks a very good question. Many universal credit applicants have already accrued debts, and sometimes they wish to take out an advance on their claim, which they would then need to repay over a period. We have been able to reduce the amount that they need to repay, from 40% to 30%, to ensure that they can keep more of their funds. I am constantly alert to the fact that people may have debts, and we need to be careful about the rate at which they need to repay, to protect vulnerable clients.
I am delighted to hear about the very welcome development that has been communicated by the Secretary of State today. I can confirm what the Employment Minister has set out today, and I am delighted that this progress has been made.
One million is a great start, but I believe that there is capability for more. I encourage all employers up and down the country to consider the many talented disabled people who want to join the workforce. The numbers are up all over the country already, as my hon. Friend outlines, but there is a lot more that can be done.
I can reassure the hon. Lady, who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on school food, which I briefly co-chaired some while ago, that I am as committed as she is to addressing food insecurity, particularly for children. I believe and hope that the changes we have made in terms of access to early funds will have reduced food insecurity, but I will of course take an early interest in the report that she is producing. I look forward to seeing it.
My hon. Friend draws attention to a real failing of the previous system. There was such a high rate of tax—sometimes up to £9 out of every £10—that there was no incentive for people to get into work. I thank him for reminding us that universal credit adjusts to such situations and ensures that work will always pay.
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I certainly hope that that does not come forward, but I think this is the responsibility of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, so I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will want to put that question to the Secretary of State.
As my hon. Friend knows, we discussed this in an earlier question. Of course, the key thing is to get support to people, and where they have two payments in one assessment period and none in the following period, they should expect to receive their full universal credit payment.
I know that the hon. Lady has worked tirelessly on this issue. The Government recognise its importance, which is why we have increased our financial support by nearly 50% since 2010. We are making improvements specifically in relation to payment in arrears, improving communication and ensuring that the Flexible Support Fund is better known and better used to help those who would otherwise face a financial barrier.
As the Secretary of State has said, we are at record levels of employment in this country and that is because of the policies of this Government. The hon. Gentleman talks about the 200,000 extra people who will be in work as a result of UC. He will also know that, in 2012, the Institute for Fiscal Studies looked at the methodology, which related to the key element of this, which was the financial incentives that will make more people go into work, and it concluded that this was within the plausible range.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We are at record levels of employment in this country. It is interesting that the Opposition talk about estimates. If I remember correctly, back in 2010, the Opposition said we would lose 1 million jobs as a result of our policies, but we have created 3.2 million. At the end of the day, when it comes to estimates, I am not taking lectures from the Opposition.
We welcome the High Court ruling, which showed that the policy is lawful. However, the hon. Lady is absolutely right: in terms of kinship carers, we are going to be making those changes. This will have to come about through regulations in Parliament and we will bring those forward shortly. I would point out that, as the Secretary of State made clear in her written statement, we will be making changes to include not just those in kinship arrangements, but children who are adopted and would otherwise be in local authority care.
As the hon. Gentleman will know, all hon. Members should be engaged in the battle against poverty. We in particular have chosen to take a different approach. Pleasingly, the Children’s Commissioner has identified that low educational attainment is critical to the future employment and economic prospects of all children. That is why we are focused on it as one of the two planks of Government policy on the matter, why we have concentrated so hard and why we are so pleased that so many more children are going to good and excellent schools.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and is a renowned champion of those in poverty in his constituency. It is interesting to note that nearly three quarters of children in poverty move out of poverty when their parents move into full-time work. We must capture and use that in our constant fight against poverty.
I would advise the hon. Lady to be slightly careful about the statistics she is using. As we heard earlier, there are some particular problems, but in that report in particular there were enormous caveats saying that the measures were not accurate and the numbers not necessarily reliable, particularly on a constituency basis. The Government are committed to a strategy to tackle poverty that involves work, and since 2010 we have 954,000 fewer households in unemployment and moved into work. That is the best thing we can do for their futures.
20. What progress her Department has made on the implementation of the disability confident scheme. 
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It is always useful to have a little bit of additional information, and we are deeply obliged to the Minister.
I congratulate my hon. Friend on his local support for the disability confident scheme. I urge all Members to become involved in these wonderful events, where we see hundreds of people signing up to the scheme. It is important for us to continue to build on the constructive and positive feedback that we receive from employers by giving them practical support, so that they can employ more disabled people.
This country has a proud record of treating people fairly, and we will continue to uphold those proud principles. Of course we are considering the report, and as I have said, we will publish our findings. To put this in context, of the G7 only Germany spends more money supporting people with disabilities and long-term conditions. We spend 2.5% of GDP, which is 6% of all Government spending. That is £50 billion a year.
It is absolutely right to look at welfare reform in the context of Brexit. My worry, and I say this sincerely, is that—let us look at the seasonal agricultural workers scheme, for example—there is already pressure for a scheme not to get more British workers, but to ask whether we can have workers from Ukraine or Russia. We must think about that, because at the moment unskilled migrants can come to this country only from the EU, not from outside the EU. We have to look at welfare reform through the lens of seeing whether British people will rise to the challenge of stepping into the breach.
The Work and Pensions Committee—I was a member of it—carried out an investigation and we looked at these issues before the general election, and the truth is that large parts of our economy are dependent on migrant labour. If we are to change that, we must understand that the sorts of reform we are now introducing will be just the start of it. There will have to be a real look at education, training and welfare. None of this stuff may necessarily be easy or palatable, but it should move us to a situation in which, instead of flat wages and flat productivity, British people are given a fair chance: they do their bit, and we back them. We will give them support through the universal credit system and we will give them training, and we will have a competitive post-Brexit economy.
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The Question is as on the Order Paper. I will say it again—[Interruption.] Order. Some people seem to need help. [Interruption.] Order. I do not need harrumphing from a sedentary position from a junior Whip, the hon. Member for South Derbyshire (Mrs Wheeler). It does not avail her, and it does not assist the service of the House.
Question put and agreed to.
That this House has considered the Government’s response to the decision of the House on pausing the Universal Credit full service roll-out.
We have a lot of pressure on time. If the hon. Gentleman really thinks it is necessary—I know he thinks everything that concerns him is terribly important —we will hear it.
Order. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman was in his place or not, but there were points of order raised about equality matters and respect issues earlier, with which I dealt. No clarification is required. My guidance was sought and I proffered it. We are short of time, and there is a debate now in which other people wish to take part. If the hon. Gentleman is interested, he can always seek guidance from my office. He does not need to raise a point of order now and it is desperately insensitive to other colleagues who wish to take part in current debates in the Chamber. This is not complicated.
The Government strongly believe that there has been no maladministration by the Department for Work and Pensions, including during the 13 years when Labour was in charge of the Department.