Oral Answers to Questions

Deidre Brock Excerpts
Monday 5th February 2024

(3 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Yasmin Qureshi Portrait Yasmin Qureshi (Bolton South East) (Lab)
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5. What steps he is taking to help reduce child poverty.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock (Edinburgh North and Leith) (SNP)
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13. What recent estimate he has made of the number of children in poverty.

Jo Churchill Portrait The Minister for Employment (Jo Churchill)
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In the latest statistics, there were 400,000 fewer children in absolute poverty after housing costs than there were in 2009-10. In this financial year, we will spend about £124 billion on welfare supporting working-age families. We are also providing £104 billion between 2022 and 2025 to help families with cost of living pressures. However, the Government’s focus is firmly on reducing the risk of child poverty by supporting parents into work in every way we can.

Jo Churchill Portrait Jo Churchill
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Nobody on either side of the House wants to see families struggling. However, I repeat that children living in workless households are about five times more likely to be in absolute poverty after housing costs than those in households where all adults work. The Government are supporting the whole family through our childcare support, which we have increased by almost 50% to £951 a month for one child or £1,630 for two; the increase in the national living wage to £11.44 from April; our cost of living offers; and so on.

Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock
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The recent Joseph Rowntree Foundation report highlighted Scotland’s much lower child poverty rate compared with England and Wales, and said that that was partly due to the Scottish Government’s child payment. Further progress is constrained by the UK’s inadequate social security system. The Trussell Trust’s “guarantee our essentials” campaign shows that 90% of low-income households on universal credit in the UK cannot afford everyday essentials. Does the Minister accept that raising the universal credit basic rate is critical to tackling child poverty?

Jo Churchill Portrait Jo Churchill
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The welfare system is there to be a strong safety net. It is not about a singular issue, because no households are the same. It is about wraparound care and dealing with people on an individual basis. It is about making sure that where children need support—for example, with free school meals—we provide it.