Select Committee on Work and Pensions Second Report


Formal Minutes


WEDNESDAY 31 MARCH 2004

Members Present:

Sir Archy Kirkwood, in the Chair
Vera Baird

Miss Anne Begg

Ms Karen Buck

Mr Andrew Dismore

Mr Paul Goodman

Mrs Joan Humble

Rob Marris

Andrew Selous

Mr Nigel Waterson

The Committee deliberated.

Draft report (Child Poverty in the UK), proposed by the Chairman, brought up and read.

Ordered, That the draft Report be read a second time, paragraph by paragraph.

Summary read and postponed.

Paragraphs 1 to 12 read and postponed.

Paragraphs 13 to 15 (now paragraphs 1 to 3) read and agreed to.

Paragraph 16 (now paragraph 4) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraphs 17 and 18 (now paragraphs 5 and 6) read and agreed to.

Postponed paragraphs 1 to 12 read again.

Paragraphs 7 to 9 read, amended and agreed to.

A paragraph - (Andrew Selous) - brought up and read as follows

    "The truth of the government's assertions in its 1998 publication, "Supporting Families" that 'marriage provides a strong foundation for stable relationships.' and that 'marriage provides the most reliable framework for raising children' are borne out by the evidence provided by J. Ermisch and M. Francesconi (Policy Press 2000) in their publication "Seven years in the lives of British families". Their study showed that whereas 52% of cohabitees had split up within 5 years of the birth of a child, only 25% of couples who married after the birth of their child had split up within 5 years of the birth. Only 8% of couples married before the birth of their child had split up within 5 years of the birth of their child.

    Given that 45% of all children in poverty are in lone parent households, whereas the total number of children in lone parent households in the UK is 25%, it is clear that children in lone parent households are much more likely than children in couple households to be living in poverty. It therefore makes sense for the government to do more to help couples stay together and specifically to promote marriage, as "Supporting Families" proposed. It is of course true that financial hardship and debt are major contributors to relationship breakdown and that increased income through work, tax credits or benefits helps couples stay together. Nevertheless, given that many parents in comfortable circumstances also split up, whose children then become poor, it is important in order to prevent poverty, for all sectors of society, that more preventative and foundation building work that equips people with relationship skills at a much earlier stage is undertaken, than is the case at present. To this end, we are surprised at the DWP's decision to combine first time married couples, cohabiting and step couples into a single reference category of 'couple families' in the DWP's Family and Children study (FACS), with no mention of marital status."

Question put, That the paragraph be read a second time.

The Committee divided.

Ayes, 3

Mr Paul Goodman

Andrew Selous

Mr Nigel Waterson

Noes, 5

Vera Baird

Miss Anne Begg

Mr Andrew Dismore

Mrs Joan Humble

Rob Marris

Paragraphs 4 and 5 (now paras 10 and 11) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraph 12 read and agreed to.

Paragraph 13 read, amended and agreed to.

A paragraph - (Rob Marris) - brought up, read the first and second time and inserted (now paragraph 14)

Paragraph 8 (now paragraph 15) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraph 9 (now paragraph 16) read and agreed to.

Paragraph 10 (now paragraph 17) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraph 11 (now paragraph 18) read, and agreed to.

Paragraph 12 (now paragraph 19) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraphs 1 to 12 inserted following para 18 (now para 19).

Paragraphs 19 to 25 (now paragraphs 20 to 26) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraphs 26 and 27 (now paragraphs 27 and 28) read and agreed to.

Paragraph 28 (now paragraph 29) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraph 29 (now paragraph 30) read and agreed to.

Paragraph 30 (now paragraph 31) read, amended and divided. (now paragraphs 31 to 34)

Paragraph 31 (now paragraph 35) read and agreed to.

Paragraph 32 (now paragraph 36) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraphs 33 to 37 (now paragraphs 37 to 41) read and agreed to.

Paragraph 38 (now paragraph 42) read, as follows:

    "The Committee agrees that tackling child poverty in lone parent households through helping lone parents move into work is the right approach. We also endorse the suggestion made by Sue Middleton that families in transition need adequate income and benefits to ensure they can protect their children from poverty. We will return to the issue of parenting in section 9."

Amendment proposed in line 2 after the word "work" to insert the words "when they choose to do so".

Question put, That the Amendment be made.

The Committee divided.

Ayes, 4

Mr Paul Goodman

Rob Marris

Andrew Selous

Mr Nigel Waterson

Noes, 5

Vera Baird

Miss Anne Begg

Miss Karen Buck

Mr Andrew Dismore

Mrs Joan Humble

Paragraphs 39 to 61 (now paragraphs 43 to 65) read and agreed to.

Paragraphs 62 to 64 (now paragraphs 66 to 68) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraph 65 (now paragraph 69) read and agreed to.

Paragraph 66 (now paragraph 70) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraphs 67 and 68 (now paragraphs 71 and 72) read and agreed to.

Paragraphs 69 and 70 (now paragraphs 73 and 74) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraphs 71 to 75 (now paragraphs 75 to 79) read and agreed to.

A paragraph - (Ms Karen Buck) - brought up, read the first and second time and inserted (now paragraph 80).

Paragraphs 76 to 88 (now paragraphs 81 to 93) read and agreed to.

Paragraph 89 (now paragraph 94) read as follows:

    "This research provides a snapshot of children's lives as lived in poverty and social exclusion and highlights the reasons why poverty reduction and, eventually, eradication is so important for children in terms of short-term outcomes as well as in the long-term."

Amendment proposed in line 3 after the word "eradication" to insert the words

"in the sense of having a material deprivation child poverty rate approaching zero"

The Committee divided,

Ayes, 3

Mr Paul Goodman

Andrew Selous

M Nigel Waterson

Noes, 6

Vera Baird

Miss Anne Begg

Miss Karen Buck

Mr Andrew Dismore

Mrs Joan Humble

Rob Marris

Paragraphs 90 to 92 (now paragraphs 95 to 97) read and agreed to.

Paragraph 93 (now paragraph 98) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraphs 94 to 96 (now paragraphs 99 to 101) read and agreed to.

Paragraphs 97 and 98 (now paragraphs 102 and 103) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraphs 99 to 104 (now paragraphs 104 to 109) read and agreed to.

Paragraph 105 (now paragraph 110) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraphs 106 to 108 (now paragraphs 111 to 113) read and agreed to.

Paragraphs 109 and 110 (now paragraphs 114 and 115) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraph 111 (now paragraph 116) read and agreed to.

Paragraph 112 (now paragraph 117) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraph 113 (now paragraph 118) read and agreed to.

Paragraph 114 read and divided (now paragraphs 119 and 120)

Paragraph 115 (now paragraph 121) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraph 116 read as follows:

    "The Child Trust Fund is a new development in the 'asset-based welfare' strand of policy. All children born after September 2002 will receive an endowment which will be invested and which the child can access at the age of 18. Possible further endowments will be paid at certain ages and children in low-income families will receive higher payments. The Child Trust Fund is sometimes mentioned as part of the anti-poverty strategy, in spite of the long-term nature of the initiative yet, as NCH states, "…it is worth noting that the benefits will not come to fruition until around the Government's target date to eradicate child poverty." CPAG argues that the introduction of the Child Trust Fund is less of a priority than, for example, reform of the Social Fund. The Committee recommends that the Government attaches the same degree of priority to developing the role of the Social Fund as it does to the Child Trust Fund between now and 2010."

Amendment proposed in line 8 after the word "poverty" to insert the words

    "There are also concerns that since money invested in child trust funds cannot be withdrawn until children reach the age of 18, the scheme may be of benefit to richer rather than poorer people, since poorer people are more likely to need speedy access to savings in times of hardship" - (Mr Paul Goodman)

The Committee divided.

Ayes, 3

Mr Paul Goodman

Andrew Selous

Mr Nigel Waterson

Noes, 6

Vera Baird

Miss Anne Begg

Miss Karen Buck

Mr Andrew Dismore

Mrs Joan Humble

Rob Marris

Other Amendments made

Paragraph 117 (now paragraph 123) read and agreed to.

Paragraphs 118 and 119 (now paragraphs 124 and 125) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraphs 120 to 125 (now paragraphs 126 and 131) read and agreed to.

Paragraph 126 (now paragraph 132) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraphs 127 to 133 (now paragraphs 133 to 139) read and agreed to.

Paragraph 134 read, as follows

    "Thus, according to Sutherland et al the policy changes have reduced the number of children in poverty by about 1.3 million. How far child poverty actually falls depends on many other changes in population structure and in employment and earnings. Crucial to changes in poverty is the effect of rising incomes on median incomes, and consequently on the poverty line. It remains to be seen how far changes in child poverty will have been the result of policy changes and how far the product of other changes."

Amendment proposed in line 5 to delete the words from "It remains" to end of sentence and insert

    "It may be impossible ever result of policy changes, such as tax credits, and to what extent the product of other changes, such as the performance of the economy. This is why the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions replied, when asked while giving oral evidence to the enquiry what contribution to meeting the 2010 target would be made by employment growth and benefit and tax credit increases, that he could not extract even a "ballpark figure" from his officials." - (Mr Paul Goodman)

The Committee divided.

Ayes, 3

Mr Paul Goodman

Andrew Selous

Mr Nigel Waterson

Noes, 5

Vera Baird

Miss Anne Begg

Miss Karen Buck

Mr Andrew Dismore

Mrs Joan Humble

Paragraph 135 (now paragraph 141) read and agreed to.

Paragraph 136 (now paragraph 142) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraphs 137 to 139 (now paragraphs 143 to 145) read and agreed to.

Paragraph 140 (now paragraph 146) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraphs 141 and 142 (now paragraphs 147 and 148) read and agreed to.

Paragraphs 143 and 144 (now paragraph 149 and 150) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraph 145 (now paragraph 151) read and agreed to.

Paragraph 146 read as follows:

    "The Committee applauds the innovation and effort that the Department is putting into helping lone parents move into paid work. But we also reiterate the objections made in our Employment Strategy Report to the principle of time-limiting benefits and requiring lone parents to work as a condition of receiving benefit. "

Amendment proposed in line 2 to delete the word "But" and insert

    "However, we believe that it is hard to reconcile the Government target which seeks to place 70 per cent of lone parents into work by 2010 with full childcare choice for the parents of very young children, who may wish to provide this childcare at home themselves. We therefore urge the Government to reconsider whether this target is genuinely reconcilable with parental childcare choice." - (Mr Paul Goodman)

The Committee divided.


Ayes, 3

Mr Paul Goodman

Andrew Selous

Mr Nigel Waterson

Noes, 6

Vera Baird

Miss Anne Begg

Miss Karen Buck

Mr Andrew Dismore

Mrs Joan Humble

Rob Marris

Other Amendments made

Paragraph 147 (now paragraph 153) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraphs 148 to 151 (now paragraph 154 to 157) read and agreed to.

Paragraph 152 (now paragraph 158) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraphs 153 to 158 (now paragraph 159 to 164) read and agreed to.

Paragraphs 159 and 160 (now paragraphs 165 and 166) read, amended and agreed to

Paragraphs 161 and 162 (now paragraphs 167 and 168) read and agreed to.

Paragraph 163 (now paragraph 169) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraphs 164 and 165 (now paragraphs 170 and 171) read and agreed to.

Paragraph 166 (now paragraph 172) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraph 167 (now paragraph 173) read and agreed to.

Paragraph 168 (now paragraph 174) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraphs 169 to 172 (now paragraphs 175 to 178) read and agreed to.

Paragraph 173 (now paragraph 179) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraph 174 (now paragraph 180) read and agreed to.

Paragraph 175 (now paragraph 181) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraphs 176 to 178 (now paragraphs 182 to 184) read and agreed to.

A Paragraphs - (Mr Paul Goodman) - brought up, read the first and second time and inserted (now paragraphs 185 to 189)

Paragraph 179 (now paragraph 190) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraphs 180 to 183 (now paragraphs 191 to 194) read and agreed to.

A Paragraph - (Ms Karen Buck) - brought up, read the first and second time, amended and inserted (now paragraph 195)

Paragraph 184 (now paragraph 196) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraph 185 (now paragraph 197) read and agreed to.

Paragraphs 186 to 188 (now paragraphs 198 to 200) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraphs 189 and 190 (now paragraphs 201 and 202) read and agreed to.

Paragraphs 191 and 192 (now paragraphs 203 and 204) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraphs 193 to 201 (now paragraphs 205 to 213) read and agreed to.

Paragraphs 202 to 204 (now paragraphs 214 to 216) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraph 205 (now paragraph 217) read and agreed to.

Paragraph 206 (now paragraph 218) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraphs 207 to 209 (now paragraphs 219 to 221) read and agreed to.

Paragraph 210 (now paragraph 222) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraphs 211 to 223 (now paragraphs 223 to 235) read and agreed to.

Paragraphs 224 to 226 (now paragraphs 236 to 238) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraphs 227 to 229 (now paragraphs 239 to 241) read and agreed to.

Paragraphs 230 to 232 (now paragraphs 242 to 244) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraphs 233 and 234 (now paragraphs 245 and 246) read and agreed to.

Paragraph 235 (now paragraph 247) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraphs 236 to 243 (now paragraphs 248 to 255) read and agreed to.

Paragraph 244 (now paragraph 256) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraph 245 (now paragraph 257) read and agreed to.

Paragraphs - (Mr Andrew Dismore) brought up and read the first and second time, amended and inserted (now paragraphs 258 and 259)

Paragraphs 246 to 248 (now paragraphs 260 to 262) read and agreed to.

Paragraph 249 (now paragraph 263) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraph 250 read as follows:

    "The Committee is persuaded that special measures are needed in London to ensure that the 2010 target will be met. The Committee recommends that the Housing Benefit disregard on earned income be substantially increased in London and the proportion of childcare costs covered by the childcare element of Working Tax Credit be increased to 90% in London. We also recommend that Jobcentre Plus be given additional resources to help minority ethnic groups in the capital move into work."

An Amendment proposed in line 3 after the word " London" to insert the words "and other areas where costs are especially high" - (Mr Paul Goodman)

The Committee divided.

Ayes, 2

Mr Paul Goodman

Andrew Selous

Noes, 3

Miss Anne Begg

Mrs Joan Humble

Rob Marris

Other amendments made

Paragraphs 251 to 259 (now paragraphs 265 to 273) read and agreed to.

Paragraph 260 (now paragraph 274) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraphs 261 and 262 (now paragraphs 275 and 276) read and agreed to.

Paragraph 263 (now paragraph 277) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraphs 264 to 270 (now paragraphs 278 to 284) read and agreed to.

Paragraph 271 (now paragraph 285) read, amended divided and agreed to (now paragraphs 285 and 286)

Paragraph 272 (now paragraph 287) read and agreed to.

Paragraphs - (Ms Karen Buck) - brought up and read the first and second time and inserted (now paragraphs 288 and 289).

Paragraph 273 (now paragraph 290) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraphs 274 to 280 (now paragraphs 291 to 297) read and agreed to.

Paragraph 281 (now paragraph 298) read, amended and agreed to.

Paragraphs - (Mr Paul Goodman) brought up, read the first and second time, amended and inserted (now paragraphs 299 to 304).

Paragraphs 283 and 285 read as follows

    "The Government's programme, aided by a sustained period of economic growth, and founded on a welfare to work strategy has worked so far but it cannot by itself deliver the child poverty reductions necessary for the 2010 goal to be reached by merely doing more of the same. A clear focus is now necessary in those areas where the achievement of the targets is most challenging. Public service improvements in health, education and transport are all going to play a part along with increases in benefit and tax credit levels to ensure that the Government's aspirations are met.

    In the short term a step change in the availability of affordable, accessible, high quality childcare is the most effective way to continue to support the existing welfare to work strategy. But in the course of the next three years, specific focussed policy and resources are needed to deal with severe and persistent poverty, the problems facing families with disabilities, lone parents and minority ethnic parents who all still face greater than normal barriers to the labour market. And finally the policies adopted by ministers across all the legislatures and departments of the UK must be seamless to ensure that the maximum effect is achieved from the extra resources that will be required.

    The Committee hopes this report produces some signposts on the road map to 2010 and will shape Government thinking in the current Comprehensive Spending Review deliberations."

Paragraphs disagreed to.

Annexes amended and agreed to.

Resolved, That the Report as amended, be the Second Report of the Committee to the House.

Ordered, That the Chairman do make the Report to the House.

Ordered, That the provisions of Standing Order No. 134 (Select committees (reports)) be applied to the Report.

Several Papers were ordered to be appended to the Minutes of Evidence.

Ordered, That the Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence taken before the Committee be reported to the House - (The Chairman.)


 
previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2004
Prepared 23 April 2004