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Poverty: Families

Question for Department for Work and Pensions

UIN HL642, tabled on 26 May 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by the Institute for Public Policy Research No Longer Managing, published on 26 May; and what steps they are taking to support families out of poverty.

Answered on

10 June 2021

The Institute for Public Policy Research’s report ‘No Longer Managing’ makes an assessment of poverty figures based on relative poverty. This Government believes, and has always believed, that absolute poverty is a better measure of living standards than relative poverty which can provide counter-intuitive results. In particular, relative poverty tends to fall when median income shrinks, such as during economic downturns, which is particularly relevant in the current circumstances.

The report also highlights the challenges caused by Covid-19, especially for those in work. Throughout the pandemic, our priority has been to protect family incomes by spending £407 billion to protect jobs, keep businesses afloat and help families get by. This Government is wholly committed to supporting those on low incomes, including by increasing the living wage, and by spending an estimated £111 billion on welfare support for people of working age in 2020/21. This has included around £7.4 billion of Covid-related welfare policy measures.

Local Housing Allowance rates were boosted by almost £1 billion in 2020/21 providing 1.5 million people with an average increase of £600 over the year. These increases have been maintained his year so that claimants who benefitted from the increase can continue to do so.

We introduced our Covid Winter Grant Scheme, now the Covid Local Support Grant, providing funding to Local Authorities in England to help the most vulnerable households, with a total investment of £269 million.

As we look towards economic recovery, our ambition is to help people move into and progress in work as quickly as possible based on clear evidence around the importance of employment, particularly where it is full-time, in substantially reducing the risks of poverty. A child living in a household where every adult is working is about 5 times less likely to be in absolute poverty than a child in a household where nobody works.

We are investing billions in our ambitious Plan for Jobs which is already delivering for people of all ages right across the country and includes the Kickstart Scheme, the Restart Scheme and our Job Entry Targeted Support Scheme. Additionally, the In-Work Progression Commission will report shortly on the barriers to progression for those in persistent low pay and recommend a strategy for overcoming these.