Live Work and Pensions Questions House of Commons


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Live Work and Pensions Questions

Live coverage of questions in the House of Commons to the Work and Pensions secretary Damian Green and his ministerial team.


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teachers and a review of services for children. Join me, Christina

:00:00.:00:11.

Cooper, for a round-up of the day in both Houses of Parliament at 11pm.

:00:12.:00:13.

First, questions to the House and pensions secretary Damian Green and

:00:14.:00:14.

his team of ministers. Order, order, questions to the

:00:15.:00:24.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions of Mr Gerald Jones. Where

:00:25.:00:31.

is the fella? Not here? Mr petered out. -- Peter Dowd. Number two. The

:00:32.:00:46.

Government supports those who aspire to be their own boss. There are

:00:47.:00:51.

nearly 800,000 more self-employed people in the UK labour market since

:00:52.:00:57.

2010 and 129,000 more in the last year alone. We monitor and review

:00:58.:01:01.

the impact of self-employment on the wider labour market and benefits

:01:02.:01:08.

system. A Citizens Advice be a report in August 2015 said there

:01:09.:01:13.

were as many as 460,000 people in self-employment costing hundreds of

:01:14.:01:18.

millions of pounds in lost revenue. Isn't it time the Secretary of State

:01:19.:01:22.

started tackling exploitative companies, many with lucrative

:01:23.:01:26.

public sector contracts, who are forcing staff down the

:01:27.:01:29.

self-employment would rather than handling disabled people? The

:01:30.:01:35.

honourable gentleman is right that there should not be exploitation of

:01:36.:01:40.

workers, particularly of. Employment, but he will have noticed

:01:41.:01:44.

the Government is on that particular case, it set up the Matthew Taylor

:01:45.:01:49.

Ruby was specifically to explore alternative employment structures,

:01:50.:01:53.

considering how those rules need to be altered to keep pace with changes

:01:54.:01:57.

in the way people work in the modern economy, and I think if he is

:01:58.:02:02.

characterising the growth of self-employment as in some way

:02:03.:02:05.

harmful to the jobs market I would disagree with him about that. I

:02:06.:02:11.

think the new enterprise allowance is proving successful in making sure

:02:12.:02:15.

that people who want to work for themselves can work for themselves,

:02:16.:02:18.

and I am sure he, like me, would welcome the fact that in his own

:02:19.:02:23.

constituency since 2015 self-employment is up by 7% and the

:02:24.:02:29.

claimant count in the last year has fallen by 12%. Happy New Year to

:02:30.:02:36.

you, Mr Speaker. Does my right honourable friend agree with me that

:02:37.:02:41.

rather than denigrating people who are becoming self-employed, we

:02:42.:02:45.

should be celebrating the fact? They are taking a risk that many others

:02:46.:02:50.

are not and will my right honourable friend make it as easy as possible

:02:51.:02:55.

for them to take on new employees and become employers themselves? I

:02:56.:03:00.

completely agree with my honourable friend. I have already mentioned the

:03:01.:03:04.

new enterprise allowance which is specifically designed to help those

:03:05.:03:08.

who may have been claiming benefits to stop claiming benefits, to set up

:03:09.:03:13.

their own business and indeed to carry on and employ others in a way

:03:14.:03:16.

that I would hope on all sides of the House we would welcome. This

:03:17.:03:27.

scheme is proving extremely successful, a survey published last

:03:28.:03:29.

year showed 80% of businesses started with the new enterprise

:03:30.:03:31.

allowance and were still trading, more than twice as effective as

:03:32.:03:34.

those leaving the old jobseeker's allowance benefit in terms of

:03:35.:03:38.

keeping people off benefits, so it is doing good work. Thank you, Mr

:03:39.:03:45.

Speaker, happy New Year. Can the Secretary of State ensure that there

:03:46.:03:54.

is much closer cooperation between the investigation service and local

:03:55.:03:59.

authorities when prosecuting abusers including on self-employment status

:04:00.:04:02.

so that councils can be confident that when they report potential

:04:03.:04:07.

scams, including by employers, they are properly followed up? I am happy

:04:08.:04:14.

to take the right honourable lady's message and pass that on to the

:04:15.:04:21.

relevant bodies both councils and the fraud enforcement surface,

:04:22.:04:23.

because of course self-employment is a good thing for the -- but fraud

:04:24.:04:29.

involving any employment is wrong and we must get ever more effective

:04:30.:04:35.

at combating that. I am sure the Secretary of State would agree that

:04:36.:04:38.

online opportunities are giving many people a chance to set up a business

:04:39.:04:41.

and would he agree that schemes like the Pop Up Shop that Torbay Council

:04:42.:04:47.

ran to help micro-businesses onto the high street is what we should

:04:48.:04:51.

look at rather than the negative impressions given by the other side?

:04:52.:04:56.

I very much agree and I welcome Torbay's Pop Up Shop experiment. I

:04:57.:05:00.

had one in my constituency a couple of years ago and it proved very

:05:01.:05:04.

successful in allowing micro-businesses to start and

:05:05.:05:08.

develop, to become larger businesses, therefore creating more

:05:09.:05:12.

employment as well, so I am delighted to hear what is happening

:05:13.:05:23.

in Torbay. Many self-employed people don't earn a great deal of money and

:05:24.:05:29.

will be losing out by cuts to tax credits and the introduction of

:05:30.:05:32.

universal credit. Shouldn't the Government be supporting those who

:05:33.:05:37.

go self-employed? I'm sorry if I have not wished you happy New Year

:05:38.:05:42.

publicly, Mr Speaker, clearly it is a compulsory part of this questions

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and I do it publicly as well! I don't agree with the honourable

:05:49.:05:51.

gentleman in his characterisation about self-employed earners and

:05:52.:05:58.

universal credit. Universal credit reduces poverty by making work pay,

:05:59.:06:03.

it supports claimants both to enter work but also then to be able to

:06:04.:06:06.

keep some of their benefits while they are at work if they are not

:06:07.:06:11.

receiving or earning very much money. Universal credit does the

:06:12.:06:15.

opposite of what he says, it helps people who are getting into work for

:06:16.:06:23.

the first time. Isn't the biggest trend in self-employment the massive

:06:24.:06:27.

increase in women who are self-employed? 70% of those newly

:06:28.:06:33.

self-employed in 2014 were women, and yet self-employment is the area

:06:34.:06:39.

where the wage gap is biggest. According to the OECD, self-employed

:06:40.:06:43.

men earned ?17,000 a year on average, while average earnings for

:06:44.:06:48.

self-employed women stood at 9800. We know from his own department's

:06:49.:06:52.

figures that women are less likely to access loans and so on.

:06:53.:06:58.

Employment. What is he doing to deal with this gender inequality in

:06:59.:07:03.

self-employment? I agree that gender inequality in pay generally is an

:07:04.:07:06.

issue that we need to do more about and self-employment is one part of

:07:07.:07:12.

that. That is why we have introduced things like the new enterprise

:07:13.:07:17.

allowance which allows people, she says it is only men that take it up,

:07:18.:07:24.

that is patented not true. She says it is disproportionately men that

:07:25.:07:28.

take it up, I would urge more potential women entrepreneurs to

:07:29.:07:31.

take it up, we are improving the enterprise allowance later this year

:07:32.:07:35.

to make sure that the men touring and advice goes on for longer so

:07:36.:07:39.

that more people, both men and women, will be able to benefit from

:07:40.:07:43.

the Freedom of being able to start, set up and run their own business,

:07:44.:07:50.

which millions of people want to do. Mr Speaker, Resolution Foundation

:07:51.:07:56.

data shows that self-employment accounts for 81% of the net change

:07:57.:08:03.

in employment since 2008. The Government's plans to abolish class

:08:04.:08:07.

to national insurance contributions could lead low income self-employed

:08:08.:08:11.

women paying five times as much to access maternity allowance. Given

:08:12.:08:16.

that nearly 2 million self-employed workers earn less than the national

:08:17.:08:20.

living wage, why has the Government decided to make Social Security

:08:21.:08:24.

support harder to access for so many of Britain's's entrepreneurs? They

:08:25.:08:30.

haven't, and can I update the honourable lady's figures, which I

:08:31.:08:38.

know she has quoted before? Actually, since 2010, 20 9% of the

:08:39.:08:43.

increase has been self-employment, and in the last 12 months... I know,

:08:44.:08:49.

I am giving her more up-to-date figures, over the past year 38% of

:08:50.:08:55.

the increase in employment has been self-employment, so the figure is

:08:56.:08:59.

not as she suggests, and as I said in answer to one of her colleagues,

:09:00.:09:04.

the whole point of universal credit is that people, whether through

:09:05.:09:09.

self-employment or employment, will be able to keep their income, we

:09:10.:09:15.

have reduced the tape are so less of their income is lost when they go up

:09:16.:09:22.

the earning scale and get into work, so I'm afraid the honourable lady

:09:23.:09:25.

simply misunderstands what is happening in the welfare system.

:09:26.:09:30.

Number three, Mr Speaker. Minister Penny Mordaunt. This year we are due

:09:31.:09:38.

to spend 1.9 billion on supporting ill and disabled children to the

:09:39.:09:41.

disability living allowance. We have rules in place to grant immediate

:09:42.:09:45.

access to the benefit of those who are terminally ill. Thank you, Mr

:09:46.:09:51.

Speaker. Can I also add my happy New Year to you, Mr Speaker. Can I thank

:09:52.:09:57.

the Minister for her answer. Indeed, the family resource survey published

:09:58.:10:01.

last year showed there were nearly 1 million disabled children, a 20%

:10:02.:10:06.

increase over the last ten years. Can my honourable friend outline

:10:07.:10:08.

what measures the Government has taken to take account of this

:10:09.:10:12.

increase so that these children get access to the support and specialist

:10:13.:10:19.

equipment that they require? Local authorities and Clinical

:10:20.:10:20.

Commissioning Groups have a requirement to meet the needs of

:10:21.:10:25.

children with a special education need or disability, including

:10:26.:10:28.

providing specialist equipment, but in the last few months my department

:10:29.:10:31.

has set up a children and Young Persons Forum to set up -- to

:10:32.:10:37.

understand the need that is out there greater, and she will know

:10:38.:10:41.

from work that I have done with one of the organisations she is involved

:10:42.:10:45.

in that we are also looking to support charities, social

:10:46.:10:48.

enterprises and businesses that are providing these much-needed

:10:49.:10:53.

services. Many of us who like some of the elements when we first heard

:10:54.:10:58.

it about the big society now quite like some of the things being

:10:59.:11:00.

uttered in terms of the shared society. If it is going to work for

:11:01.:11:05.

children and not just for the terminally ill but for people with

:11:06.:11:10.

disabilities, and some disabilities are abilities, I am talking here

:11:11.:11:15.

about autism, if it is really going to happen this time this programme

:11:16.:11:18.

has got to have teeth, leadership and resources. Absolutely, and the

:11:19.:11:26.

announcements made by the Prime Minister today are accompanied with

:11:27.:11:29.

additional funding, and the approach that is being taken is to look at

:11:30.:11:37.

every age range in society, so we have announcements that are going to

:11:38.:11:40.

help children and young people, again I have outlined what my

:11:41.:11:46.

department is doing to ensure that we are looking at their needs, as

:11:47.:11:50.

well as new provision for those in the workplace.

:11:51.:11:56.

Some children with disabilities get disabled student allowed on some of

:11:57.:12:01.

those are not eligible for PIP or DLA, so why is the government

:12:02.:12:09.

cutting DSA? I would be happy to look at any particular case that the

:12:10.:12:16.

honourable gentleman has, but we are very conscious of the needs of

:12:17.:12:20.

children and young people in particular, which is why we have set

:12:21.:12:25.

up an additional forum. Yes, we are concerned about people in the

:12:26.:12:29.

workplace, but if we get it right for children and young people,

:12:30.:12:34.

including students, we will save the future ministerial teams problems.

:12:35.:12:39.

So I am happy to look at any case the honourable gentleman has.

:12:40.:12:43.

Michael Fabricant. You issue a papal order saying we don't have to say

:12:44.:12:50.

happy new year, Mr Speaker? But happy new year anyway. Very welcome.

:12:51.:12:54.

I appreciate the spirit of the honourable gentleman's observation.

:12:55.:13:00.

With permission, I will not say happy new year again, but I will

:13:01.:13:03.

answer questions four and 20 together. Evidence shows that being

:13:04.:13:07.

in the right work is good for health and that being out of work can have

:13:08.:13:10.

a detrimental effect on health. That is why I have launched the work,

:13:11.:13:13.

health and disability green paper jointly with the Secretary of State

:13:14.:13:17.

for Health. This expresses our intention to work with health care

:13:18.:13:21.

professionals to support people to work and our current consultations

:13:22.:13:23.

ask how we should best achieve this goal. Helen Stokes Lampard, who is

:13:24.:13:31.

the chair of the Royal General College of General practitioners,

:13:32.:13:34.

has spoken widely about the burden of work and general practitioners.

:13:35.:13:38.

Notwithstanding that, what analysis has my right honourable friend done

:13:39.:13:42.

on the effectiveness of fit notes and getting people back to work? I

:13:43.:13:48.

am very keen on improving the effectiveness of fit notes in

:13:49.:13:53.

getting back to work, and I take the point about the pressure on GPs.

:13:54.:13:59.

That is specifically why, in the consultation document, we have

:14:00.:14:02.

considered extending the possibility of issuing fit notes to other health

:14:03.:14:05.

care professionals and I will be very interested to see the response

:14:06.:14:11.

we get not just from those receiving the fit notes but also from the

:14:12.:14:19.

health care professionals involved. I support my right honourable friend

:14:20.:14:22.

on this policy, but does he agree with me that given the consultant to

:14:23.:14:29.

whom a patient will be referred is a work coach, is it critical that they

:14:30.:14:32.

have the training to deal with those hardest cases of unemployment,

:14:33.:14:35.

particularly those with mental health problems? I do agree with my

:14:36.:14:39.

honourable friend on that and I'm grateful for his support. I am happy

:14:40.:14:46.

to reassure him that all work coaches complete a specific training

:14:47.:14:51.

for their role, including a course which combines the knowledge, skills

:14:52.:14:56.

and behaviour they need to deal with the people they work with,

:14:57.:14:59.

specifically people who may have a mental health condition, because

:15:00.:15:05.

obviously, work coaches need to have the skills to deal with the issues

:15:06.:15:12.

that will arise from that. In Wrexham, one autistic constituent

:15:13.:15:18.

had his DWP caseworker take his benefits away when he told them he

:15:19.:15:23.

enjoyed a hobby as a disc jockey. He received a bill for a fictional

:15:24.:15:29.

figure in vented by the DWP for the cost of income that had to be

:15:30.:15:35.

recovered by them was that they work coach needs to assist individuals,

:15:36.:15:40.

not penalise them. Will he please do better? Well, I don't know the

:15:41.:15:47.

details of that case if the honourable gentleman would like to

:15:48.:15:50.

write to me or the minister for disabled people, we will look at

:15:51.:15:54.

that case. But I can assure him that the majority of cases that come

:15:55.:15:59.

before work coaches, those work coaches do their best to help people

:16:00.:16:04.

make the most of their lives, to get into employment or back into

:16:05.:16:07.

employment, and that is at the heart of what we do. After the big cut in

:16:08.:16:13.

employment support allowance takes place in April, the new work and

:16:14.:16:18.

health programme is in place. Department be spending more or less

:16:19.:16:21.

unemployment support for ESA claimants than is the case currently

:16:22.:16:26.

under the Work Programme and work choice? I can assure the right

:16:27.:16:33.

honourable gentleman that as part of the changes, there is an extra ?330

:16:34.:16:37.

million abroad programme for those who are on that group. We are going

:16:38.:16:42.

to target support more effectively to ensure that as many as possible

:16:43.:16:52.

can get back into work. There is a huge premium on helping ex-offenders

:16:53.:16:59.

into work for them, for their families and reducing the cost to

:17:00.:17:02.

society. Jobcentre plus has a dedicated resource of 150 prison

:17:03.:17:07.

work coaches helping support prisoners nationwide. I am grateful

:17:08.:17:10.

to the minister for his response. He will know from his own experience

:17:11.:17:14.

and from an excellent report from the Department for Work and Pensions

:17:15.:17:17.

select committee about supporting offenders that getting a job is one

:17:18.:17:23.

of the best means of preventing reoffending. As well as the work

:17:24.:17:26.

that is being done, will he look to see what can be done jointly with

:17:27.:17:29.

the Ministry of Justice to ensure there is better collaboration

:17:30.:17:32.

between Jobcentres and community rehabilitation companies to join up

:17:33.:17:41.

those agencies? We do work closely with the Ministry of Justice and

:17:42.:17:45.

numerous joint initiatives locally and nationally, and row supporting

:17:46.:17:51.

the elements of the Ministry of Justice's new employment strategy.

:17:52.:17:54.

But I do recognise that we need to improve opportunities for

:17:55.:17:56.

ex-offenders, so I welcome his and his committee's report, which we

:17:57.:18:06.

will respond to in due course. Her Majesty's Inspectorate of prisons

:18:07.:18:10.

and probation did not find that a single prisoner had been helped into

:18:11.:18:15.

employment ID through the gate provision, which is the government's

:18:16.:18:19.

flagship programme for seeing a step change in rehabilitation. Did that

:18:20.:18:22.

surprise him and what is his response? My response firstly is

:18:23.:18:29.

that this has been a challenge for successive governments for many

:18:30.:18:32.

years. We do need to do better. There is good work going on.

:18:33.:18:37.

Ultimately, to improve the situation, we need more prisoners to

:18:38.:18:40.

be work ready and we need more employers to be willing to take on a

:18:41.:18:46.

prisoner. Having governors control skills provision in prisons will

:18:47.:18:49.

have some beneficial effect on work readiness, but we also need to

:18:50.:18:53.

encourage more employers to step forward. Things like the seeing

:18:54.:18:58.

potential programme can help. Other things have a part to play, but we

:18:59.:19:03.

need to do more. The minister will be aware that people on the autistic

:19:04.:19:09.

spectrum are often disproportionately represented in

:19:10.:19:11.

the criminal justice system, and people with autism have great

:19:12.:19:17.

difficulty finding jobs. Could he reassure me that when he looks at

:19:18.:19:22.

the health and disability green paper consultation, he will look

:19:23.:19:25.

specifically at people with autism and ex-offenders with autism, is

:19:26.:19:30.

only 16% of people with autism are currently in employment? My right

:19:31.:19:34.

honourable friend highlights an important point. I know that my

:19:35.:19:40.

friend, the minister for people with disabilities, will indeed be looking

:19:41.:19:43.

at the issue of people with autism. It also highlights the point that

:19:44.:19:49.

one of the key determinants for post-release employment is what

:19:50.:19:52.

happened with that individual before they were convicted. It highlights

:19:53.:19:55.

again the importance of making sure nobody is left behind. We pay

:19:56.:20:02.

particular attention to all of these groups who face particularly

:20:03.:20:04.

difficult barriers to getting into work. Our select committee report

:20:05.:20:11.

found reoffending costs ?15 billion to the public purse, and yet fewer

:20:12.:20:15.

than one in four ex-offenders go on to find work. Alarmingly,

:20:16.:20:19.

Westminster Council's report before Christmas of rough sleeping found

:20:20.:20:23.

that one in three of their rough sleepers had come directly from

:20:24.:20:26.

prison. Why is it that this department is unable to provide

:20:27.:20:30.

proper transitional support for people leaving prison to make sure

:20:31.:20:34.

they are not on the streets and they are assisted? It is true that when

:20:35.:20:40.

you talk about ex-offenders and people on release from prison, it is

:20:41.:20:44.

vital to have help with finances, employment and housing. Among the

:20:45.:20:49.

things we have done to help on housing and making sure there are no

:20:50.:20:55.

waiting days, and also being able to keep the housing element in

:20:56.:20:58.

universal credit open for 26 weeks rather than 13 for certain types of

:20:59.:21:01.

prisoner, in order to enhance the support. If I were allowed to wish

:21:02.:21:13.

you a happy new year, I would! In the meantime, pension Wise provides

:21:14.:21:16.

guidance to people aged 50 and over with the defined contrition pension

:21:17.:21:20.

pot on their options under the pension fix abilities. We are

:21:21.:21:23.

consulting on a single finance guidance body to provide debt advice

:21:24.:21:28.

and guidance on money and pensions. In thanking the minister for his

:21:29.:21:32.

reply, I can't resist pushing him and the whole House a happy New

:21:33.:21:36.

Year's Eve. More specifically, can he said what information the

:21:37.:21:41.

government are providing in terms of what people know about their

:21:42.:21:47.

entitlement to the state pension? Attack Mata for his salutations and

:21:48.:21:52.

for that question. -- I thank my honourable friend. The DWP continue

:21:53.:21:57.

to run a multichannel communication campaign that includes radio, press,

:21:58.:22:00.

social media and other channels to raise awareness of the new state

:22:01.:22:04.

pension. As well as directing people to information on golf .uk --

:22:05.:22:14.

gov.uk, the priority has been to provide personalised information to

:22:15.:22:17.

individuals so they know what they are likely to get. Since 2016, the

:22:18.:22:21.

online check your state pension service has had over 2.1 million

:22:22.:22:30.

views. The minister's warm words do nothing to reassure women in my

:22:31.:22:35.

constituency with whom the government's advice and pensions has

:22:36.:22:39.

a terrible reputation because of the injustices that Waspy women face. If

:22:40.:22:47.

the government can do one thing, it would be to look again at those 2011

:22:48.:22:52.

changes and give justice to those women. The honourable lady will be

:22:53.:23:04.

aware that there are many issues involving the Waspi women. A lot of

:23:05.:23:07.

time and resources were spent on informing them of the situation

:23:08.:23:10.

including millions of letters from 2011. Happy new year to you and

:23:11.:23:20.

everyone in the House, particularly the Waspi women. Mr Speaker, a

:23:21.:23:24.

leaflet recently published by the Treasury named ways to save 2017

:23:25.:23:28.

mentioned the junior ice, the helped by ISA, premium Bonds, the cash and

:23:29.:23:33.

stocks and shares ISA and the new lifetime Isil, but completely omits

:23:34.:23:37.

pensions. This is a disgrace and confirms my fear is that the

:23:38.:23:40.

government have downgraded the role of pensions and are using the

:23:41.:23:46.

gimmick of Waspi to distract from pensionable savings. Does the

:23:47.:23:53.

minister agree that Isas are the best way -- pensionable savings are

:23:54.:23:58.

the best way to save for retirement? I totally disagree with the

:23:59.:24:02.

honourable gentleman's analysis of the government's importance for

:24:03.:24:05.

pensions. A lot of effort goes into communicating with people on

:24:06.:24:08.

television and elsewhere about auto enrolment and it is one of the great

:24:09.:24:12.

successes of this government and the coalition before of how successful

:24:13.:24:17.

auto enrolment is that so many people, and I hope that continues. I

:24:18.:24:24.

know the minister agrees on the need for greater transparency in the

:24:25.:24:27.

pensions world, particularly around costs. He will be keen to address

:24:28.:24:31.

the criticism of the government for failing to ensure that people get

:24:32.:24:35.

the best possible returns. The Financial Conduct Authority's report

:24:36.:24:38.

in November said there were a number of failures in the asset management

:24:39.:24:43.

industry around the transparency of costs and charges being applied to

:24:44.:24:46.

pension investments, with weak price competition having a material impact

:24:47.:24:52.

upon investment returns. Labour is committed to implementing all of the

:24:53.:24:57.

FSA's recommendations. Is the government? Yes. Question number

:24:58.:25:06.

seven. There are 100,000 fewer children in relative poverty than in

:25:07.:25:11.

2010, and 557,000 fewer children living in workless households. The

:25:12.:25:15.

forthcoming green paper on social justice will identify and address

:25:16.:25:19.

the root causes of poverty, building on the two statutory indicators set

:25:20.:25:24.

out in the welfare reform and work act 2016, namely worklessness and

:25:25.:25:28.

educational attainment. Stella Creasy. I note that the minister

:25:29.:25:33.

used the figures about relative poverty. I am a bit surprised,

:25:34.:25:36.

because we know that absolute poverty in this country has been in

:25:37.:25:39.

decline for the last ten years, except the children, were half a

:25:40.:25:44.

million more children in this country and living in absolute

:25:45.:25:50.

poverty since 2010. What responsibility does the minister

:25:51.:25:52.

think this government and the previous government have for that?

:25:53.:25:57.

The responsibility the government has is to make sure as many

:25:58.:26:02.

households as possible have work, because for children in particular,

:26:03.:26:07.

working age adults in nonworking families were almost four times more

:26:08.:26:11.

likely to be living on a low income and the child poverty transition's

:26:12.:26:15.

report of June 2015 found that 74% of poor children in workless

:26:16.:26:19.

families that moved into full employment exited poverty. That is

:26:20.:26:24.

what we can do and what we are doing for children who have been in

:26:25.:26:28.

poverty. As she neglected to say, there are 500,000 fewer people

:26:29.:26:32.

living in absolute poverty than in 2010. The key point is about getting

:26:33.:26:43.

people into work. I hope that she, as a reasonable member of the

:26:44.:26:46.

opposition party, would acknowledge that the fact that we have

:26:47.:26:50.

historically low levels of unemployment is the best thing we

:26:51.:26:54.

can do for children. It is the best way to get children and the

:26:55.:26:58.

households they live in out of poverty. In her own constituency, I

:26:59.:27:02.

am happy to tell her that the claimant count since 2010 is down by

:27:03.:27:06.

47%. And the youth claimant count has fallen by 2% in the past year.

:27:07.:27:13.

One of us in the chamber can learn about brevity. However the problem

:27:14.:27:24.

presenting my surgeries, scratch the surface and nine times out of ten,

:27:25.:27:30.

the swiftest cause a poverty is family breakdown and that is a

:27:31.:27:37.

harder nut to crack. It is, and that is why this government and

:27:38.:27:41.

previously the Coalition Government, has decided that having a simple

:27:42.:27:45.

income -based measure and target is not the right way. We need to look

:27:46.:27:50.

at the root causes of child poverty and having a range of indicators and

:27:51.:27:57.

targets, is the best way. One of which is family breakdown and that

:27:58.:28:01.

is the best way we have as few as possible children living in

:28:02.:28:09.

poverty... Happy New Year to you, Mr Speaker. The Secretary of State has

:28:10.:28:17.

talked about tackling poverty, but because of the change in universal

:28:18.:28:24.

credit, families will be ?1000 worse off, and some ?2500 worse off. Why

:28:25.:28:31.

does the government continued to downplay the role of income poverty

:28:32.:28:36.

in determining children's future health, job prospects and life

:28:37.:28:39.

expectancy, in spite of all the evidence? I am not downplaying, I am

:28:40.:28:44.

talking about the underlying causes of actually making sure we take a

:28:45.:28:47.

range of measures across the board, which actually help to eradicate

:28:48.:28:55.

child poverty. That, I think is the only sensible way to do it. Simply

:28:56.:29:00.

focusing on individual incomes or individual benefits is not the whole

:29:01.:29:05.

picture. It doesn't represent the realistic picture. We need to be

:29:06.:29:08.

more wide-ranging in the way we approach it. The Prime Minister has

:29:09.:29:12.

been talking about the pressures faced by people getting by on low

:29:13.:29:16.

and average incomes and our shared responsibilities to them. Fine

:29:17.:29:21.

sentiments, but does the Secretary of State admit they sound hollow

:29:22.:29:25.

when the government's plans to cut incomes for those families who were

:29:26.:29:30.

just getting by. Does he accept the government has a responsibility to

:29:31.:29:35.

support parents who are working hard in average low paid judge, not cut

:29:36.:29:39.

their already overstretched incomes? I would point out to the honourable

:29:40.:29:45.

lady, this government's introduction of the national living wage gave the

:29:46.:29:48.

lowest earners their fastest pay rise in 20 years last year. An

:29:49.:29:54.

increase of 6%. It is an example of a government measure introduced by

:29:55.:29:58.

employers. I cannot think of better early example of the shared society.

:29:59.:30:04.

What assessment has the government made of how many more children will

:30:05.:30:07.

be pushed into poverty given the cuts to the work allowance under

:30:08.:30:14.

universal credit? As I have said to a number of honourable members on

:30:15.:30:19.

all sides, the solution to this lies in a wider range of issues. We have

:30:20.:30:24.

the social Justice Green paper, which I'm sure we will have many

:30:25.:30:27.

discussions about in this House and elsewhere. At the root of it, it is

:30:28.:30:32.

making sure as many people as possible can earn a salary and can

:30:33.:30:37.

work. I am sure she will welcome the fact that in her own constituency

:30:38.:30:41.

since 2010, unemployment is down 53%. Thousands of families able to

:30:42.:30:47.

work and control their own lives and work their way out of poverty. She

:30:48.:30:55.

should welcome that. It is a poor government that fails to understand

:30:56.:30:59.

the value of children. In addition to the universal credit work

:31:00.:31:02.

allowance cuts, this government has abolished the child poverty unit,

:31:03.:31:06.

frozen Social Security payments and is removing tax credits from third

:31:07.:31:11.

and subsequent children. Does he think child poverty will go up or

:31:12.:31:16.

down as a result of these measures? I have given the honourable lady a

:31:17.:31:19.

number of figures relating to addle poverty and child poverty. The fact

:31:20.:31:28.

is, since 2010, there are 100,000 fewer children in relative poverty.

:31:29.:31:31.

I would also hope she would welcome the fact the work of the Child

:31:32.:31:36.

poverty unit is now covering a wide range of policies and is based

:31:37.:31:39.

inside the Department for Work and Pensions. Question May, Mr Speaker.

:31:40.:31:50.

With permission, I will answer questions eight, 14 and 21 together.

:31:51.:31:55.

This government is committed to supporting new enterprises. We are

:31:56.:31:59.

building on the success of the new enterprise allowance which has

:32:00.:32:02.

supported 96,000 claimants to start a new business. From this year,

:32:03.:32:07.

eligibility will be extended to include universal credit claimants

:32:08.:32:10.

who are already self-employed. Would my right honourable friend look

:32:11.:32:18.

again at small businesses and self-employed to use on my systems

:32:19.:32:21.

for their tax affairs and does he recognise often these people don't

:32:22.:32:26.

have equipment, knowledge of broadband capacity to download these

:32:27.:32:33.

complex forms and it costs time and money? I am happy to tell my

:32:34.:32:38.

honourable friend, tax affairs are not my direct responsibility but the

:32:39.:32:40.

Treasury will have heard what he said. But Jobcentre Pelous is always

:32:41.:32:48.

keen to help particularly, small businesses with individual problems

:32:49.:32:52.

they may have, such as the use of online forms. Unemployment has

:32:53.:33:06.

continue to fall in Cornwall to record low levels of the county now

:33:07.:33:12.

having 61,000 self-employed people. Does he agree it is only under a

:33:13.:33:16.

Conservative Government we can continue to increase employment in

:33:17.:33:19.

Cornwall and continue and further improve the creation of small

:33:20.:33:24.

businesses in those communities? He makes a very good point. In North

:33:25.:33:29.

Cornwall in his constituency, self-employment has increased by

:33:30.:33:35.

7.6% since 2010. As I have said in answer to previous questions, the UK

:33:36.:33:39.

labour market is in its strongest position for years. The best way to

:33:40.:33:45.

promote new and growth of jobs is to promote new and growth in small

:33:46.:33:48.

businesses and I am delighted to know it is going so well in

:33:49.:33:53.

Cornwall. Would he agree universal credit can help the self-employed,

:33:54.:33:57.

along with the other forms that got Demens is putting forward in

:33:58.:34:01.

benefits for the self-employed, because universal credit can help

:34:02.:34:05.

people who are working as well as trying to set up on their own? One

:34:06.:34:10.

of the differences about universal credit and the previous benefits, it

:34:11.:34:17.

is replacing, is people can continue to receive it when they are still in

:34:18.:34:22.

work and it is good at coping but people who may have fluctuating

:34:23.:34:26.

earnings, which a lot of self-employed people do, because it

:34:27.:34:28.

can be flexible enough to adjust to that. The introduction of universal

:34:29.:34:34.

credit is another brick of the edifice of helping people set up

:34:35.:34:40.

their own businesses. What does the Secretary of State going to do about

:34:41.:34:44.

the people who are classified as self-employed, because of the

:34:45.:34:48.

contracts of employment they have, not because they have set up their

:34:49.:34:52.

own business, but because their employer requires them to sign a

:34:53.:34:55.

contract saying they are self-employed, which means they get

:34:56.:34:59.

Nizic pay, no annual leave? How will he help them? I agree this is an

:35:00.:35:05.

issue and this is why we have set up the Matthew Taylor review.

:35:06.:35:11.

Investigating the new types of employment structures that have been

:35:12.:35:15.

set up in recent news and making sure employment laws keep up with

:35:16.:35:19.

new types of employment. Absolutely, I agree there is an issue and that

:35:20.:35:25.

is why we have set up the Matthew Taylor review. Question nine, Mr

:35:26.:35:32.

Speaker. The number of people in employment has increased by 104,000

:35:33.:35:36.

in the past year. The National living wage has given people a pay

:35:37.:35:39.

rise, helping to build an economy that works for all. Has the Minister

:35:40.:35:45.

considered the implication of the national living wage Raqqa wage

:35:46.:35:51.

coming in so quickly on small and medium-size businesses, particularly

:35:52.:35:54.

those in the manufacturing sector? What would he say to those

:35:55.:35:57.

businesses who will not be able to adjust in time or will be profitable

:35:58.:36:02.

because it looks like it is being brought in so quickly? It is right

:36:03.:36:09.

everybody should be able to benefit from strong economy, but as well as

:36:10.:36:13.

introducing the national living wage, the government has announced

:36:14.:36:17.

plans to reduce corporation tax further to 17% and increased the

:36:18.:36:21.

employment allowance which could be worth up to ?3000 a year. Isn't it

:36:22.:36:27.

perverse of the government to have reduced work allowance and universal

:36:28.:36:30.

credit at the same time as we have seen the increases in the national

:36:31.:36:34.

living wage, so the overall benefit to individuals in work is reduced?

:36:35.:36:41.

The government has done a range of things. Universal credit is a

:36:42.:36:44.

completely different benefit system from the legacy benefits that it

:36:45.:36:49.

replaces. It doesn't make sense to make a direct comparison against tax

:36:50.:36:54.

credits. You have to see it in the context greater help with childcare

:36:55.:36:57.

and that the national living wage. Band with an increased income tax

:36:58.:37:01.

personal allowance means you get to keep more of what you learn as well.

:37:02.:37:08.

When the national living wage was introduced, the Office for Budget

:37:09.:37:10.

Responsibility said it would cost 60,000 jobs in the economy. Does the

:37:11.:37:14.

Minister think it is a price worth paying or is it another forecaster

:37:15.:37:18.

custom expert economists are we should be ignoring? My honourable

:37:19.:37:25.

friend is correct about the OBR's projection, but he will have noticed

:37:26.:37:28.

it came in the context of projection of employment growth which was

:37:29.:37:37.

larger. Question Number Ten. We are investing significant resources

:37:38.:37:41.

including increased coverage of talking therapy services by 600,000

:37:42.:37:46.

a year by 2020. Mental health is a key part of our green paper in

:37:47.:37:50.

improving lives which we are consulting on. Can I thank members

:37:51.:37:54.

on all sides of this House who came to our drop-in event on the Green

:37:55.:37:57.

paper and are helping with the consultation. I welcome her response

:37:58.:38:03.

and also the intervention of the Prime Minister today on the subject

:38:04.:38:07.

of mental health. Would the Minister agree in order to best support those

:38:08.:38:11.

with mental health conditions into the workplace, we need to transform

:38:12.:38:15.

the way in which we deliver mental health for young people before they

:38:16.:38:22.

reach working age. I agree with my honourable friend absolutely. When I

:38:23.:38:27.

ask health care professionals working in DWP services, what is the

:38:28.:38:31.

single most significant health care intervention that would be

:38:32.:38:35.

transformative, it is mental health support services for young people.

:38:36.:38:39.

The Prime Minister's announcement on that today is very welcome. The

:38:40.:38:45.

five-year forward view on mental health which was released a year ago

:38:46.:38:50.

had two specific recommendations for the Department of work and pension

:38:51.:38:54.

is. One of which included employment support. Can the Minister update the

:38:55.:38:59.

House as to the progress on that specific recommendation? There were

:39:00.:39:05.

two particular targets, but there are a range of initiatives the

:39:06.:39:08.

Department has set out. Good progress has been made on all of

:39:09.:39:13.

those fronts, including developing specific mental health support for

:39:14.:39:17.

services we run, like access to work. There has been considerable

:39:18.:39:20.

work going on and the Prime Minister made reference to that today. She

:39:21.:39:24.

also said we need to dig up the pace on this issue and I agree with her.

:39:25.:39:31.

The proposed closure of eight Glasgow Jobcentres resulting in

:39:32.:39:36.

increased travel times, introduces further barriers for people with

:39:37.:39:40.

mental health conditions who are seeking help into work. How will the

:39:41.:39:46.

Minister ensure people with mental health conditions can continue to

:39:47.:39:54.

receive the help they need? My right honourable friend, the Minister for

:39:55.:39:57.

employment, has met all of the MPs who are concerned with that

:39:58.:40:02.

particular vocation across Glasgow. Also, the Minister for welfare

:40:03.:40:07.

reform, my honourable friend, has also met with Scottish ministers on

:40:08.:40:12.

this particular issue. We are very aware of the concerns members have

:40:13.:40:17.

raised and if she has any subsequent comments to make, she is more than

:40:18.:40:22.

welcome to have meetings with either myself or my colleagues. People with

:40:23.:40:26.

mental health conditions are more likely to fail the work capability

:40:27.:40:30.

sextant and to be sanctioned. At the same time we know from independent

:40:31.:40:35.

research how damaging both were capable assessments and sanctions

:40:36.:40:39.

are for mental health. With the announcements today, when will the

:40:40.:40:43.

government take responsibility for the impact on policies on mental

:40:44.:40:48.

health and make sure that support is available from trained mental health

:40:49.:40:51.

professionals for claimants of mental health conditions and will

:40:52.:40:55.

the Secretary of State committed to scrap the work capability assessment

:40:56.:40:58.

and punitive sanctions, as a Labour has? I would refer the honourable

:40:59.:41:04.

lady to three things. First of all, the Secretary of State speech where

:41:05.:41:10.

he announced his focus on the particular issues of sanctions for

:41:11.:41:12.

people with mental health conditions. The Prime Minister's

:41:13.:41:17.

statement today as well. I would also point to the green paper, and

:41:18.:41:22.

major tenant of that is that we are consulting on the work capability

:41:23.:41:27.

assessment. A Labour policy which is not delivering. I am pleased that

:41:28.:41:32.

enormous numbers of Labour MPs came to our drop-in numbers and will be

:41:33.:41:36.

helping us in that consultation. It is an important issue and we should

:41:37.:41:37.

get it right. Number 11, please, Mr Speaker. Over

:41:38.:41:54.

93.5% of assessments and over 90% of work capability assessments are

:41:55.:42:03.

deemed acceptable through independent audit. There was not

:42:04.:42:06.

deemed acceptable are returned to the provided to be reworked. And we

:42:07.:42:14.

maintain records and they are held to account through their contact.

:42:15.:42:22.

With the Minister include the use of body worn cameras which would

:42:23.:42:27.

include the accuracy of the much disputed health reports. It would

:42:28.:42:32.

safeguard claimants and assessors and it is proving very successful

:42:33.:42:36.

when in use by emergency services across the UK. There are detailed

:42:37.:42:42.

improvement plans, but one of the things that is being looked at is

:42:43.:42:47.

how assessments are recorded. If the honourable lady would like to write

:42:48.:42:50.

to meet with any specific suggestions, I will be happy to look

:42:51.:42:56.

at them. The vast majority of successful appeals are because of

:42:57.:42:59.

additional, late submitted evidence, so what more can be done to access

:43:00.:43:05.

and share medical evidence between professionals ahead of the decision?

:43:06.:43:13.

My honourable friend is absolutely right the department has carried out

:43:14.:43:16.

a number of pilot exercises to look at the more lenient of the early

:43:17.:43:22.

stages of assessment to give people time to get that health care

:43:23.:43:28.

information in front of assessors. It is paying dividends and we hope

:43:29.:43:33.

that will be rolled out. I would call on this question, the

:43:34.:43:38.

honourable member for air Carrick Cumnock if she were standing, but

:43:39.:43:42.

she is not, so I cannot. But she is standing now, so I will. Thank you,

:43:43.:43:50.

Mr Speaker. Many of my constituents have been refused home assessments

:43:51.:43:55.

and others have been unable to have their assessments recorded at home

:43:56.:44:01.

for the DWP. Given the fact that 61% of 90,000 claimants who have

:44:02.:44:06.

appealed against the decision at the tribunal period up to September 2016

:44:07.:44:11.

won the case, would the minister commit to a root and branch review

:44:12.:44:17.

of the assessment process? Although we are consulting on ESA, the green

:44:18.:44:22.

paper consultation does afford us the ability to look at PIP

:44:23.:44:29.

assessments and look at the journey that a person is going on. I had

:44:30.:44:33.

previously said we are looking at what further we can do in terms of

:44:34.:44:38.

recording assessments. If the honourable lady has cases where

:44:39.:44:41.

people need home assessments and they are not getting them, I would

:44:42.:44:48.

urge her to flag them with me. In my constituency those who are waiting

:44:49.:44:52.

for their PIP appealed to go through are having to wait nine months to

:44:53.:44:57.

have it heard. Given they receive no benefit during this period and can

:44:58.:45:01.

lose their vital mobility car, will the Minister say what ever is the

:45:02.:45:05.

department is going to make to speed up this process? I am sorry to hear

:45:06.:45:11.

this is happening in the honourable gentleman's constituency. That is a

:45:12.:45:18.

very unusual length of time to be waiting for an appeal and if he

:45:19.:45:22.

would like to give me the details of those cases, I would be happy to

:45:23.:45:31.

look at them. Number 13. Manageability is an independent

:45:32.:45:35.

charity responsible for its own management information, including

:45:36.:45:40.

the data it publishes. There are 70,000 more people with a mobility

:45:41.:45:45.

car than there were in 2010. By constituent Evelyn Campbell had her

:45:46.:45:51.

car removed on the 20th of December following a PIP assessment, leaving

:45:52.:45:55.

her housebound and distressed over Christmas. It will take months for

:45:56.:46:00.

her appeal to be heard and in the meantime her car has been sold. Is

:46:01.:46:05.

this not another example of a policy from this government which is both

:46:06.:46:11.

cruel and, given that 60% of PIP appeals are successful and the cars

:46:12.:46:15.

have to be re-provided, it is a totally false economy. Those that do

:46:16.:46:20.

lose their vehicle receive transitional support through motor

:46:21.:46:28.

ability, including the right to buy their vehicle and a ?2000 lump sum.

:46:29.:46:34.

Although only a small proportion of decisions are peeled and overturned,

:46:35.:46:42.

I am exploring a range, that is of those going to appeal, not the

:46:43.:46:48.

caseload, I am exploring a range of options and will be working closely

:46:49.:46:56.

with them on this. The key point is that I do not think that the car

:46:57.:47:02.

should be withdrawn until the appeal process has finished. As the

:47:03.:47:06.

minister said it was only a small number, could she be encouraged to

:47:07.:47:12.

look down that route? We are looking at this issue, we are also looking

:47:13.:47:16.

at the issue of those who may wish to travel overseas for whatever

:47:17.:47:21.

reason, whether it is a work reason, a travel option or some other

:47:22.:47:28.

reason, and we are working very closely to see what can be done in

:47:29.:47:34.

those instances. Topical question. Number one, sir. As part of the

:47:35.:47:41.

comprehensive package of reforms to improve mental health support and by

:47:42.:47:45.

the pro-minister this morning, my department will be undertaking an

:47:46.:47:51.

expert led review over how best to ensure mental health of employees

:47:52.:47:55.

can be best supported. This will include promoting best practice

:47:56.:47:58.

amongst employers and making available free tools to businesses.

:47:59.:48:03.

We will be conducting an internal review of discrimination in the

:48:04.:48:07.

workplace against people with mental health conditions. This will build

:48:08.:48:10.

on our green paper consultation to help build up the evidence base

:48:11.:48:18.

around mental health. I welcome the fact 90,000 businesses have been

:48:19.:48:22.

helped, put the Minister tell me how many of these are in Cornwall as a

:48:23.:48:28.

whole? I also welcome those figures and I can tell my honourable friend

:48:29.:48:31.

that the new enterprise allowance has helped create nearly 100 new

:48:32.:48:36.

businesses in North Cornwall since it began. We move into a second

:48:37.:48:43.

phase with improvements and it is encouraging that since it began over

:48:44.:48:48.

one in five businesses supported by the NEA had been started by disabled

:48:49.:48:53.

entrepreneurs. This is an extremely encouraging development. There is

:48:54.:48:59.

consensus on the need to implement the SCA's recommendations on

:49:00.:49:04.

transparency on pension scheme costs in full. We hope that is soon and we

:49:05.:49:08.

will hold the government and the Minister to on that. Labour is

:49:09.:49:13.

committed to the state pension triple lock, is the government? The

:49:14.:49:17.

government is committed to the triple lock for the whole of this

:49:18.:49:25.

Parliament. The District Council have been working proactively with

:49:26.:49:31.

the DWP to support the roll-out of the full service of Universal

:49:32.:49:35.

Credit. Although the council has committed resources to this work,

:49:36.:49:38.

local people are still facing challenges. And the Secretary of

:49:39.:49:44.

State assure me his department will urgently seek to resolve those

:49:45.:49:50.

issues that have been raised by the council and other authorities? I am

:49:51.:49:54.

happy to give my honourable friend that reassurance. He and I have been

:49:55.:50:00.

exchanging correspondence on this. A letter he may not yet have had

:50:01.:50:04.

offers him a meeting with my honourable friend the Minister for

:50:05.:50:07.

employment. We want to work with local councils. The motor neurone

:50:08.:50:17.

disease Association and Parkinson 's UK have welcomed proposals by the

:50:18.:50:21.

government to scrap the assessments for people with severe, lifelong

:50:22.:50:27.

conditions. The Secretary of State described it as pointless,

:50:28.:50:31.

bureaucratic nonsense. Will the government agreed to scrap

:50:32.:50:33.

reassessments in the same circumstances for people with

:50:34.:50:37.

lifelong conditions for a PIP and continuing health care? I would say

:50:38.:50:44.

that PIP is slightly different. For example, someone's needs might

:50:45.:50:51.

increase and they will need a reassessment to receive more support

:50:52.:50:56.

under PIP. What the green paper affords us the opportunity to do is

:50:57.:51:00.

to look at all of these things together and there are opportunities

:51:01.:51:04.

for PIP perhaps to have a lighter assessment, but we need to get dull

:51:05.:51:10.

process right. I wrote to the pensions minister on the 16th of

:51:11.:51:16.

December about my constituent Ruth Saunders who said there are certain

:51:17.:51:20.

defined benefit pension schemes were increases are not being paid per

:51:21.:51:26.

ounce pre-April 19 77. The point is there is discrimination and only

:51:27.:51:32.

10-15% of companies are not paying these increases. This is one of the

:51:33.:51:39.

burning injustice as the Prime Minister was talking about and I

:51:40.:51:44.

have a meeting with him and my constituent to discuss it further.

:51:45.:51:54.

The government have been reluctant to consider the arrangements for

:51:55.:52:00.

what the women who have been disadvantaged. What action is the

:52:01.:52:06.

Secretary of State taking at present and what changes is he proposing? As

:52:07.:52:13.

the honourable gentleman will be aware the government has had a ?1.1

:52:14.:52:18.

billion condition for Waspy women and this has been discussed in this

:52:19.:52:22.

has very many times and the government has no plans to do

:52:23.:52:26.

anything further in this respect. Can the Minister reassure a company

:52:27.:52:34.

in my constituency that the work and health programme will not result in

:52:35.:52:41.

a large reduction in the programme took up disabled people get back

:52:42.:52:46.

into work? I can give my honourable friend those reassurances. We are

:52:47.:52:50.

absolutely committed to closing the disability employment gap and we are

:52:51.:52:54.

picking up the pace on not just the programmes that we are running, but

:52:55.:52:58.

also asking businesses and employers to do more. On that very disability

:52:59.:53:05.

employment gap, the government has pledged to halve it by 2020, yet

:53:06.:53:09.

recently I would like to know what the government is doing to look at

:53:10.:53:13.

the impact on the public sector of cuts in jobs. The human equality and

:53:14.:53:18.

human rights commission has lost a third of its staff in redundancies.

:53:19.:53:29.

The honourable gentleman will no that under this government and the

:53:30.:53:34.

coalition the disability employment gap is closing. We recognise we need

:53:35.:53:37.

to do more. I think the public sector can do more and part of that

:53:38.:53:44.

is identifying particular roles that individuals can take up. This

:53:45.:53:50.

government is picking up the pace on this issue and it is a much better

:53:51.:53:53.

situation than existed under the previous Labour government. I

:53:54.:53:58.

welcome over 1 million more women are in employment, but would my

:53:59.:54:03.

honourable friend confirm what the government is doing to support women

:54:04.:54:06.

with children who might find it difficult to return back to work

:54:07.:54:09.

because of childcare responsibilities? I thank my

:54:10.:54:14.

honourable friend for that question. Our aim is to help parents into a

:54:15.:54:18.

job which fits around their care and responsibilities. Last year we spent

:54:19.:54:25.

a record ?5 billion supporting parents with the cost of childcare

:54:26.:54:29.

and this will rise to over 6 billion by 20 20. Finland has become the

:54:30.:54:39.

first country in Europe to place unemployed citizens with

:54:40.:54:40.

unconditional monthly sums to reduce poverty. When will the government

:54:41.:54:47.

produce research regarding similar schemes? As I understand it is a

:54:48.:54:53.

small pilot in a local area and I have read a lot and it is an

:54:54.:54:59.

interesting idea. It suggests this kind of scheme is fantastically

:55:00.:55:03.

expensive and some of the losers from it are those who are on the

:55:04.:55:08.

lowest incomes at the moment. The polite response is I am unconvinced

:55:09.:55:15.

by this proposal. Seasonal agricultural workers have benefited

:55:16.:55:18.

from auto enrolment into pensions, but many accrue only small pension

:55:19.:55:23.

pots. What can the government do to make sure that the bureaucratic

:55:24.:55:25.

burden does not fall disproportionately on the employers

:55:26.:55:31.

of these vital workers? My honourable friend has propped up a

:55:32.:55:35.

very good point. The government has to balance between wanting as many

:55:36.:55:38.

people as possible having pensions with economic sense and the impact

:55:39.:55:44.

to employers. My officials have discussed this issue with the

:55:45.:55:47.

National Farmers Union and the issue will be looked into in the course of

:55:48.:55:52.

the 2017 review. How can the government meet its target to reduce

:55:53.:56:00.

the disability unemployment gap, in fact to halve it, where it is

:56:01.:56:05.

cutting back 80% resources available for that? How can it do it? Is it

:56:06.:56:09.

not just empty words? The honourable gentleman is

:56:10.:56:17.

confused. We are putting more resorts is into these initiatives

:56:18.:56:24.

and also asking others to do more. Obviously we are consulting in the

:56:25.:56:28.

green paper, but some of the announcements the Prime Minister has

:56:29.:56:31.

made today included additional resources. We very much want to meet

:56:32.:56:38.

that target and we are putting the resources and the policies in place

:56:39.:56:46.

to do that. Last month I asked the government to introduce mandatory

:56:47.:56:51.

video recording of all assessments because a constituent of mine in

:56:52.:56:55.

Twickenham was treated with less respect than the character in the

:56:56.:57:03.

fictional film I, Daniel Blake. When will mandatory video recording

:57:04.:57:09.

commenced? We are looking at a range of issues to improve the assessment

:57:10.:57:18.

process and experience of it in both PIP and ESA and recording of

:57:19.:57:21.

assessments is one of those things, so we are looking at that. For many

:57:22.:57:30.

young people, housing benefit is a lifeline, not a lifestyle choice.

:57:31.:57:34.

When will the government clarify how their scheme will not see these

:57:35.:57:42.

people lose vital support? The regulations regarding the removal of

:57:43.:57:45.

housing benefit from 18 to 21 new roles will be published. We will

:57:46.:57:51.

provide full details, particularly the exemptions, which we will

:57:52.:57:55.

provide in March. I would like to say thank you to the schools and

:57:56.:58:01.

businesses of Corby and Northamptonshire who provide work

:58:02.:58:05.

experience for young people. These introductions to the world of work

:58:06.:58:08.

are important civil ministers continued to make sure this remains

:58:09.:58:11.

at the front of cross departmental discussions? We know one of the most

:58:12.:58:18.

important things to be able to get a job is to have had a job and be in

:58:19.:58:24.

work and demonstrate all of those employability skills. Specifically

:58:25.:58:26.

with work experience placements at Jobcentre plus, on average people

:58:27.:58:34.

spend 49 days longer in employment for having done one, so yes. Yvette

:58:35.:58:43.

Cooper. Can I urge the secretary of State to personally review what is

:58:44.:58:47.

happening to the moat ability scheme? 41,000 people have had their

:58:48.:58:54.

cars taken away as the result of assessments, including a severely

:58:55.:58:57.

disabled Castleford constituents who cannot get to work and may be about

:58:58.:59:03.

to lose her job. And Pontefract constituents with metal rods in her

:59:04.:59:05.

joints who cannot get out of the House and is at risk of into

:59:06.:59:11.

depression as a result, on the day the Prime Minister raise mental

:59:12.:59:15.

health injustice. Will he take seriously, the serious impact on

:59:16.:59:19.

people's mental health of being isolated in this way? Happy to

:59:20.:59:26.

assure the right honourable lady we are looking closely at the whole

:59:27.:59:32.

moat ability scheme, which he knows is an independent charity and we

:59:33.:59:39.

have formed a walking working group and we are looking at this

:59:40.:59:45.

carefully. Following on from the question, from the member for

:59:46.:59:51.

Pontefract and Castleford, my constituents who has limited

:59:52.:59:53.

mobility because of a stroke received a moat ability car last

:59:54.:59:58.

year and it was a lifetime -- lifeline. Last week it was removed

:59:59.:00:01.

from her now she's struggling to get her children to school and then get

:00:02.:00:05.

to work. She is appealing this decision and I hope she will win. In

:00:06.:00:09.

the meantime she is finding it hard to manage her disability as well has

:00:10.:00:14.

responsibilities as an employee and as a mother. Can the Minister look

:00:15.:00:20.

at this as a case of urgency to make sure she gets the help and support

:00:21.:00:26.

she needs? I will be happy to look at the particular case the

:00:27.:00:29.

honourable lady raises. We are looking at both the issue in the

:00:30.:00:33.

moat ability scheme but other issues as well, which mean people are not

:00:34.:00:40.

able to take up work or travel opportunities. We have recently met

:00:41.:00:47.

with moat ability on these issues. We hope very soon to be able to make

:00:48.:00:55.

some announcements. Indicators of child poverty are important as the

:00:56.:00:59.

Secretary of State early on, so our targets. Would he agree to adopt the

:01:00.:01:05.

provisions in the bill presented which would establish a statutory

:01:06.:01:08.

targets for the reduction of child poverty? I think that is the

:01:09.:01:14.

old-fashioned approach, which isn't necessarily the best way forward.

:01:15.:01:18.

Having the whole range of issues that can give child poverty

:01:19.:01:24.

addressed is the best way to do it. I look forward to his response to

:01:25.:01:28.

the social Justice Green paper that we will be publishing in the coming

:01:29.:01:35.

months. In the London Borough of Wandsworth, last year there was a

:01:36.:01:42.

25% increase in foodbank use. Shockingly, almost 50% of these

:01:43.:01:46.

users are children. Does the government agree it is an absolute

:01:47.:01:51.

disgrace and what will they do to assure us in this House today that

:01:52.:01:55.

the children and adults of tooting shall no longer have to rely on food

:01:56.:02:02.

banks? As I said to a previous question, the best route out of

:02:03.:02:07.

poverty is work. One of the great successes of the economic policy of

:02:08.:02:12.

this government has been more people are at work, women are at work and

:02:13.:02:16.

fewer children are growing up in workless households than ever

:02:17.:02:19.

before. I wish the Labour Party would accept that getting more

:02:20.:02:24.

people into work, reducing unemployment is the best attack on

:02:25.:02:28.

poverty any government can make. Stuart Malcolm Macdonald. It is now

:02:29.:02:35.

four weeks since the employment minister promised members of

:02:36.:02:38.

Parliament from Glasgow data on the new boundaries by which you want to

:02:39.:02:42.

close half the city's Jobcentres. Where is the information? I did

:02:43.:02:47.

indeed meet with the honourable gentleman and his colleagues and we

:02:48.:02:53.

had a Westminster Hall debate. One of the things I committed to was an

:02:54.:02:58.

online consultation and that is indeed proceeding, as I said to him.

:02:59.:03:04.

When we met, if there is other information they want to bring

:03:05.:03:12.

forward, I am sure they will do so. There are 13,000 children in my

:03:13.:03:16.

constituency of Bradford East living in poverty, which is almost a third

:03:17.:03:20.

of the total poverty figure for the whole district. Can the Minister

:03:21.:03:26.

answer this question and explain to my constituents, his decision to

:03:27.:03:35.

close the child poverty unit? The child poverty unit, the main

:03:36.:03:39.

function of the child poverty unit was to support ministers in meeting

:03:40.:03:44.

the 2010 act, which has now been superseded by the 2016 act, which

:03:45.:03:50.

the response to which, the response specifically to poverty is being led

:03:51.:03:56.

by my department so be unit is now working inside the Department for

:03:57.:03:58.

Work and Pensions. That is the straightforward answer to his

:03:59.:04:03.

question. Can the Secretary of State tell us if he has any New Year 's

:04:04.:04:07.

resolutions? Perhaps he could resolve to make sure that no one is

:04:08.:04:13.

sanctioned at Christmas and will he review the operations of his

:04:14.:04:17.

department, as I asked him before Christmas, to make sure nobody goes

:04:18.:04:23.

without over the festive period? My New Year's resolution is to make

:04:24.:04:26.

sure my department continues its successful work in getting ever more

:04:27.:04:30.

people into work and making sure we have a benefit system that helps

:04:31.:04:34.

people get into work and the pension system that provides security and

:04:35.:04:41.

dignity in old age. Order. Urgent question, Mr Peter Kyle. I would

:04:42.:04:47.

like to ask the Secretary of State for Justice to make a statement on

:04:48.:04:51.

the emergency review to determine how to ban perpetrators of domestic

:04:52.:04:55.

violence from directly cross-examining their victims within

:04:56.:04:56.

the family

:04:57.:04:57.