The Bishop of Durham received the following written answers of 19th December 2022:
The Lord Bishop of Durham asked His Majesty’s Government:
- further to the Department for Work and Pensions annual official statistics ‘Children in low income families: local area statistics 2014 to 2021’, what assessment they have made of the reasons for the increase in (1) the number of, and (2) the proportion of, children living in relative poverty in every local authority area of the North East between 2014/15 and 2020/21.
- further to the Department for Work and Pensions official statistics ‘Children in low income families: local area statistics 2014 to 2021’, what assessment they have made of the reasons for the increase in (1) the number of, and (2) the proportion of, children living in absolute poverty in every local authority area of the North East in every year since 2017/18.
- what recent discussions have taken place between the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions on child poverty.
Baroness Stedman-Scott (Con): The Department for Work and Pensions has made no assessment.
Ministers in the Department for Work and Pensions engage regularly with their Ministerial counterparts in other Departments, taking a collective approach to the policies and interventions that can make a difference.
The Government is committed to reducing child poverty and supporting low-income families. We will spend over £242bn through the welfare system in 2022/23 including £108bn on people of working age.
From 10 April 2023 we are uprating State Pension and benefit rates by 10.1%. In order to increase the number of households who can benefit from these uprating decisions the benefit cap will also be increased by 10.1%. These increases are subject to Parliamentary approval.
With over 1.22 million job vacancies across the UK, our focus remains firmly on supporting parents to move into, and progress in work, an approach which is based on clear evidence about the importance of employment – particularly where it is full-time – in substantially reducing the risks of child poverty and in improving long-term outcomes for families and children.
Getting people both into work and progressing in work is key to levelling up for the whole of the UK, and DWP is playing a central role in this. To help people into work, including parents, our Plan for Jobs is providing broad ranging support for all Jobseekers with our Sector Based Work Academy Programmes (SWAP), Job Entry Targeted Support and Restart scheme. We are also extending the support Jobcentres provide to people in work and on low incomes. Through a staged roll-out, which started in April 2022, around 2.1 million low-paid benefit claimants will be eligible for support to progress into higher-paid work.
The government is also increasing the National Living Wage by 9.7% to £10.42 an hour from April 2023, representing an increase of over £1,600 to the annual earnings of a full-time worker on the National living wage, benefitting over 2 million low paid workers.
The Lord Bishop of Durham asked
His Majesty’s Government, further to the the report by the North East Child Poverty Commission report Getting the building blocks wrong: Early childhood poverty in the North East, published on 12 October, what assessment they have made of the merits of undertaking levelling up impact assessments of all major government policy and spending decisions, including those taken by the Department for Work and Pensions.
Baroness Stedman-Scott: No assessment has been made.
However, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has set 12 ambitious levelling up ‘missions’ to anchor ambition and provide clarity over the objectives of public policy for the next decade. These include missions on skills and living standards.
Missions will deliver real change to peoples’ lives by improving living standards by spreading opportunities and enhancing economic growth, restoring local pride, spreading opportunity and empowering local leaders across the country.
Missions will also serve as an anchor for the private sector and civil society. This policy stability and consistency will unleash innovation, investment and collaboration.
To ensure transparency and accountability, the missions are specific and measurable, and are supported by a set of metrics.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities will report on progress towards delivering the missions through an annual report laid before Parliament. The obligation to publish the annual report will be established in statute, creating a regular point for Parliament and the public to debate and scrutinise progress towards levelling up.
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