HC Deb 10 May 2001 vol 368 c262
13. Mr. Nick St. Aubyn (Guildford)

If he will make a statement on the tax burden on poorer families. [159890]

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Stephen Timms)

By October 2001, as a result of the personal tax and benefit measures introduced over the Parliament, families with children in the least well-off fifth of the population will, on average, be £1,700 a year better off in real terms.

Mr. St. Aubyn

According to the Government's own figures, since they came to office the poorest fifth of households have had their tax burden increased by 12 per cent. Do the Government recognise that running a car is a necessity for many of even the poorest families, particularly in rural areas? They have introduced a regressive tax—there has been a massive increase in car taxation. Will the Minister join the Conservative party in cutting tax on petrol by 28p a gallon?

Mr. Timms

No, less well-off families are much better off, as independent research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows. Of course, the data to which the hon. Gentleman referred include only about a quarter of a year's worth of working families tax credit data and do not include subsequent increases in income support child credits and other improvements. He needs to explain to his constituents the fact that our measures will have taken 1.2 million children out of poverty during the course of this Parliament. There have been huge improvements, particularly for the least well-off families.