Mr. Jim Callaghan
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will estimate the change in the number of those affected by the poverty trap since May 1979.
§ Mr. Newton
The latest estimates are of average numbers in the poverty trap in the calendar year 1979. For the details, I refer the hon. Member to my reply to my hon. Friend, the Member for Anglesey (Mr. Best) on 21 June 1982—[Vol. 26, c.25–8.]
The hon. Member will appreciate that the numbers in the poverty trap are mainly governed by the extent of the help that is made available by way of means-tested benefits, particularly family income supplement and rent and rates rebates, to working families whose incomes are relatively low. It is therefore likely that there has been some increase in the numbers since 1979 because of the real improvement in FIS in 1980, which brought a 40 per cent. rise in the number of families benefiting, and because there are also more working families eligible for help with their housing costs.