HC Deb 01 April 2004 vol 419 cc1587-8W
Mr. David Stewart

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what recent consultation she has conducted with(a) young people and (b) adults on low income in relation to minimum income standards; [164254]

(2) if she will establish an independent minimum income standards commission to tackle poverty in the UK; and if she will make a statement; [164282]

(3) what recent representations she has received on minimum income standards; and if she will make a statement; [164283]

Key target and performance indicators 2003–04
Percentage of user satisfaction as measured by the User Satisfaction Index 86 81
Number of complete case administrations 26,000 26,239
The average time of concluding disqualification proceedings in months 24 22.4
Percentage of disqualification cases concluded within:
30 Months 85 71.7
24 Months 60 41.7
Action invoices for payment within:
30 days of receipt 100 98.99
20 days of receipt 97 96.26
Action Insolvency Services Account payments within 4 days of receipt 98 97.3
Action Redundancy Payment claims within 6 weeks 82 88.59
Contain the increase in the cost of administration + 1 1
Contain the increase in the cost of investigating cases + 10 1
1 Not yet available

(4) what research has been (a)commissioned and (b)collated by her Department on minimum income standards. [164284]

Mr. Pond

I have been asked to reply.

When we launched our consultation exercise, Measuring Child Poverty, in April 2002, we sought views from a wide range of interested parties, including academics and poverty experts, as well as children, young people and adults with direct experience of poverty. The final conclusions of this consultation were published as Measuring Child Poverty in December 2003; a copy is available in the Library.

We have received a number of representations on minimum income standards from hon. Members, through parliamentary questions and correspondence. This topic has always engendered interest from interested lobby groups and members of the public.

We commission research to inform and evaluate policies aimed at alleviating poverty, but there is no accepted single research method that can be used to calculate a minimum income standard for all families. What people need to live on varies greatly, and is dependant on a range of factors.

Poverty is wider than income alone. We have a comprehensive strategy for tackling poverty and social exclusion, and our annual report "Opportunity for all" sets out how we are tackling the problems faced by individuals throughout their lives.

We have no plans to establish an independent minimum income standards commission.