§ Mr. Murphy
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what progress has been made in eliminating the poverty trap; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Newton
The poverty trap is a consequence of the inevitable interaction between means-tested benefits and income relevant to them, tax and national insurance contributions. Estimates vary considerably about its practical effect on families; but the impact of any change in the component elements upon the extent and depth of the trap is carefully considered before decisions are reached.
The complete elimination of the poverty trap would require either that means-tested benefits should no longer be available to families and individuals, or else an unacceptably high level of expenditure would have to be incurred to provide benefits which would be universally available regardless of need.