Ellie Reeves Labour, Lewisham West and Penge: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment her Department has made of the effect of the universal credit income taper and work allowances on women returning to work after childbirth.
Alok Sharma The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions: The Government now provides more support than ever before to help parents with the costs of childcare, including providing 15 hours a week of free childcare in England for all 3 and 4 year olds and disadvantaged 2 year olds, and doubling free childcare available for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds to 30 hours a week. We have also increased the level of support for childcare costs within Universal Credit from 70% to 85%, its highest ever level. This gives parents up to £646.35 per month for one child and £1108.04 per month for two or more children.
We know that the longer someone is out of the labour market, the harder it can be to return when they are ready. As a result parents will be helped to prepare for work when their youngest child is two, and look for work when they are three. This will give them the best chance of finding a job which fits in with their caring responsibilities. Work-related requirements are tailored to individual circumstances and compatible with child care responsibilities. Work coaches can consider caring responsibilities when setting availability and work search hours. This will also include work preparation activities.
In Universal Credit, there are none of the cliff edges or complicated hours rules of the old system, just a single, simple, taper so payments reduce in a transparent and predictable way as earnings increase. We know this is having a positive impact on employment outcomes, as shown in three separate research studies. The reports for these studies can be found at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/643952/understanding-how-universal-credit-influences-employment-behaviour.pdf (Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 3rd May 2018. Source: TheyWorkForYou)
Steve Reed Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) (Civil Society): May I start by wishing good luck to SuRie, who I am sure Members are aware is the UK’s entry in the Eurovision song contest on Saturday night?
The National Fund is a charitable trust with almost half a billion pounds of assets. It has been seeking Government permission to close and release its funds for charitable purposes since 2011. That money would be a lifeline to cash-starved charities up and down the country. Why have the Government dithered for seven years, rather than making that money available to charities?
Tracey Crouch, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
We work very closely with the Charity Commission and look at these issues on a daily basis. I will happily meet the hon. Gentleman to discuss that issue further. I am sure there are good reasons behind the delay in the process, but my door is always open, as he knows.
(Source: Charity Regulation Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 10th May 2018.TheyWorkForYou / Hansard)
HOMELESSNESS REDUCTION ACT
Helen Hayes Labour, Dulwich and West Norwood:
The Homelessness Reduction Act came into force this month, but many councils have raised concerns that the new burdens funding that the Government have allocated is simply not sufficient for the full implementation of the Act. The Secretary of State is new in his post, but the causes of homelessness under this Government are not going away, so may I urge him to take an early look at the Government’s decision to review the funding only at the end of the current two-year period?
Heather Wheeler Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Housing, Communities and Local Government):
I thank the hon. Lady for that rant. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that she might be—what is the word we are looking for? [Interruption.] Some of the most important parts of the Act will be implemented in October, so councils have six months to get their places in order.
(Housing, Communities and Local Government – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 30th April 2018. TheyWorkForYou)