HC Deb 09 February 1998 vol 306 c52W
Mr. Pond

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if she will carry out an assessment of the impact of her Department's current policies on the(a) income, (b) employment opportunities and (c) living standards, of the poorest 30 per cent, of the population. [23344]

Mr. Paul Murphy

Government policies are continually evaluated using a variety of methods. We have a range of surveys and policy evaluation methodologies in place, some of which are targeted specifically at certain low income groups. In addition, various research studies on low income and deprivation have been commissioned from leading academics.

The best way of improving the living standards of most people at the bottom of the income distribution is to help them into work and we are implementing a range of policies under the New Deal to achieve this aim. Our objective is to raise the living standards of the many, not just the few, and to offer educational and employment opportunities for all.

We carry out a range of policies to stimulate growth in employment and to improve the opportunities for those seeking employment—including specific Action Plans for targeting measures on areas and people objectively defined as being in greatest need. The impact of these policies is regularly assessed by their degree of success in meeting specific objectives.

The Standing Advisory Commission on Human Right's Report on Employment Equality published in June 1997 makes over 160 recommendations, a number of which relate to employment opportunities and social deprivation. Consideration of all the recommendations is well advanced and the Government's response will be published in the coming months.