HC Deb 23 October 2000 vol 355 c71W
Mr. Llew Smith

To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on recent steps taken to alleviate poverty. [134128]

The Prime Minister

We recently published the second annual report on our strategy for tackling poverty and social exclusion. "Opportunity for all—One year on: making a difference" (Cm 4865, September 2000), copies of which are available in the Library. This provides a detailed account of the action we have taken since we announced our strategy in September and what more we need to do. It clearly shows that we are already making a difference to people's lives and that real progress is being made in a number of key areas.

For example: the number of children living in workless households has fallen by 250,000 during the period spring 1997 to spring 2000; there are now over one million more people in work than in 1997 and unemployment levels are at their lowest levels for 20 years. Over one million people have participated in the New Deals and around a third of them have found work; and the combined effects of the Minimum Income Guarantee (MIG), Winter Fuel Payments and Free TV Licences for those aged 75 and over mean that a single pensioner in receipt of MIG is over £8 a week better off in real terms since 1997. And pensioner couples on MIG gain at least £11 a week.

This is only the beginning of a long-term strategy. We are laying the foundations for a society where no child lives in poverty and a society that offers opportunity for all.