HC Deb 09 February 2001 vol 362 cc724-5W
Mr. Grieve

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if she will make a statement on poverty in Scotland, and numbers of Scottish people living in poverty, in(a) 1997, (b) 1998, (c) 1999 and (d) 2000. [145645]

Mrs. Liddell

The UK Government have introduced a range of measures to address poverty and social exclusion. For example, the national minimum wage has ensured decent minimum levels of pay for over 100,000 people in Scotland and the New Deal has helped over 30,000 young people in Scotland into jobs since its introduction in 1998. The Working Families Tax Credit benefits over 100,000 families in Scotland and, together with other measures introduced this Parliament, is estimated to lift around 100,000 children in Scotland out of poverty by 2002. (We are committed to abolish child poverty in 20 years, with the ambition to halve it in 10 years.) For the elderly, we have introduced the Minimum Income Guarantee, which benefits around 164,000 people aged 60 or over; an increased Winter Fuel Payment, which benefits around 1 million people aged 60 or over; and free television licences for those people aged 75 or over, benefiting over 300,000 pensioners. Over the course of this Parliament, we are spending across Great Britain an extra £9 billion, over and above inflation, on pensioners, with over half going to the poorest third.

The Government have also set up the Joint Ministerial Committee on poverty to ensure that the UK Government and the devolved Administrations can work together to tackle the problems of poverty and social exclusion.