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As we set out in the recent Welfare Reform Green Paper, we want to continue to engage private and voluntary sector providers and will invite those providers to manage pathways to work services as we roll out the programme across the country.
Greg Clark: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what the evidential basis is for the change in the Government's definition of poverty from 50 to 60 per cent. of average income. 
The Government's first Child Poverty Spending Review 2002 public service agreement measure to reduce the number of children in poverty used 60 per cent. of median household income as the low income threshold. The Spending Review 2004 public service agreement measure also uses 60 per cent. of median household income.
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions if he will estimate the cost of increasing either benefit or tax credit payments to levels which will bring all families with children below the poverty line to a position above the poverty line. 
Our long-term strategy to meet the child poverty target is not based exclusively on increasing financial support for families. Evidence clearly shows that work is the best route out of poverty for those who are able to work and our strategy focuses on policies to enable parents to participate in the labour market, as well as providing financial support.
The other element of the strategy is the delivery of excellent public services that improve the life chances ofchildren living in poverty and help break the cycle of deprivation. Our child poverty strategy is set out in Opportunity for All and in the Child Poverty Review, published alongside the 2004 Spending Review White Paper.
Danny Alexander: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what proportion of children in families with (a) a lone parent, (b) married parents or step-parents and (c) cohabiting parents or step-parents are in poverty; and what research he has conducted on the equivalent figures in other (i) EU and (ii) G8 countries. 
Margaret Hodge: Specific information on children living in low income households in Great Britain by family type is available in the latest publication of the Households Below Average Income 199495 to 200405". The threshold of below 60 per cent. contemporary median income is the most commonly used in reporting trends in low income.
|Before housing costs||After housing costs|
|Married parents or married step-parents||15||19|
|Co-habiting parents or co-habiting step-parents||23||29|
The Department for Work and Pensions provides low-income figures for lone parent and couple families in the UK to the EU. The Department has not carried out specific research on equivalent figures for EU or G8 countries.
International comparisons are important because the Government aspire to be among the very best performers in Europe on child poverty, competing with the record of countries such as Sweden and Denmark. A focus on income before housing costs; as adopted in our Spending Review 2004 target; supports this, as this is used across other European Union countries.
Measuring child poverty", published in December 2003, compares findings with our European Union counterparts. It showed that the UK had the highest child poverty rate in Europe in 1999 (29 per cent.) but, according to latest data for 2003, we are now closer to the EU average (23 per cent.). European comparisons are made using data from the European Household Panel Study, and are not comparable with figures using the Family Resources Survey. Data from 2003 remains the most up to date as this was the last year that data was produced for the UK using this dataset. UK comparisons across Europe will be measured using the European Union Survey of Income and Living Conditions (EUSILC) from autumn 2005.
While we have not made comparisons across the G8 countries, Child Poverty in Rich Nations 2005", a UNICEF report on child poverty highlights the progress we have started to make in halving child poverty by 2010 and eliminating it by 2020. The report also showed that the UK has made more progress on reducing child poverty than any other country in the OECD in the years from 1991 to 2000.
Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what estimate he has made of the proportion of single people of working age who are living in poverty; what target he has set for reducing this proportion; and if he will make a statement. 
Margaret Hodge: Specific information on working age adults living in low income households in Great Britain by family type is available in the latest publication of 'Households Below Average Income (HBAI) 199495 to 200405'. The threshold of below 60 per cent. contemporary median income is the most commonly used in reporting trends in low income.
According to this measure, and before housing costs, 17 per cent. of single people of working age without children are living in poverty, compared to 29 per cent. of single people of working age with children. After housing costs, the proportions are 22 per cent. and 47 per cent. respectively.
We do not have a specific target for this group as, overall, working age adults are less likely to be on relative low-income than children or pensioners. Our priorities reflect these facts and focus on the most vulnerable groups.
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what assessment he has made of the
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relative level of (a) in-work and (b) out-of-work benefits paid to single parents; and if he will make a statement. 
Margaret Hodge: The exact level of in and out of work support that a lone parent will receive is dependent on their circumstances and income, including child support and housing tenure. These vary considerably among lone parents.
Since 1997 the Government have made a number of improvements to the tax and benefit system to ensure that work pays. We have developed an effective strategy for helping more lone parents make the transition from benefits and into work which combines child care assistance, financial support for those entering work and provision of work focused advice and support.
In 1998 we introduced the national minimum wage, which currently stands at £5.05 per hour for those aged 22 and over. The child and working tax credits introduced in April 2003 will help tackle child poverty and make work pay for all families, including lone parents.
A lone parent with two children, moving into work on the national minimum wage, with child care costs of £80per week, will be financially better off by around £56per week. This could be increased by any child support maintenance received, as this is disregarded in full for tax credit purposes.
Generally, a lone parent who is not in work can access all relevant benefits though what they qualify for will depend on individual circumstances. The large majority of lone parents on benefit claim income support, housing benefit and council tax benefit. They will also receive child benefit. Their individual circumstances may also allow them to claim certain premiums within their income support entitlement, such as the disabled child or carer premiums. Being in receipt of income support also entitles them to free school meals for their children and free prescriptions and eye tests.
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