HC Deb 22 November 2000 vol 357 cc228-9W
Mr. Kaufman

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will set out, including statistical information relating as directly as possible to the constituency, the effect on the Manchester, Gorton constituency, of his Department's policies and actions since 2 May 1997. [136175]

Mr. Rooker

The Department's policies and initiatives have made a significant contribution to our overall objectives ofEradicating child poverty in 20 years, and halving it within 10; Promoting work as the best form of welfare for people of working age while protecting the position of those in greatest need; and, Combating poverty and promoting security and independence in retirement for today's and tomorrow's pensioners.

These goals are being pursued nationwide and our achievements are set out in our annual "Opportunity for all" reports. Our second report, "Opportunity for all—One year on: making a difference" (Cm 4865, September 2000) sets out what progress has been made in the past year, as well as highlighting what more needs to be done. Nationwide statistical information is necessarily more complete than constituency level data, but the following provides a comparative guide to the effect of the Department's policies and actions in Manchester, Gorton since May 1997.

We are spending an additional £7 billion a year on support for families and children. This includes significant increases in child benefit, which is now worth £15 a week for the eldest child and £10 a week for other children: nationally about 7 million families receive child benefit, and in Gorton 10,000 families benefit.

We have launched the New Deals to help lone parents, the young unemployed, the long-term unemployed, the over 50s and partners of the unemployed to move from benefit into work. In the period since August 1998 the number of people claiming Jobseekers Allowance nationally has reduced from 1,323,600 to 1,067,300; in Manchester, Gorton, the number has reduced from 4,100 to 3,000. The number of lone parents who claim Income Support has decreased over the same period from 955,000 to 910,100 nationally and in Manchester, Gorton from 3,100 to 2,900.

Next year we will be spending £4.5 billion a year extra in real terms on pensioners as a result of our policies. The Winter Fuel Payment has continued to tackle fuel poverty. Last winter, around 10 million pensioners, of whom 10,300 were in Manchester, Gorton, benefited from the payment. We have now extended the scheme to include eligible people from age 60 so that even more older people will benefit. This winter, households that qualify will receive an increased payment of £200. The Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG) targets the poorest 1.6 million pensioner families, 4,400 of whom live in Manchester, Gorton. These pensioners will benefit from our alignment of all MIG rates from April 2001, giving single pensioners at least £92.15 each week—a real increase of £12.45 for the poorest pensioners.