Emma asked Iain Duncan Smith:
“The Government claims it is tackling what it calls ‘dependency’ on welfare, in the North East the number of working households claiming housing benefit has shot up by two thirds because wages are failing to keep up with rent. Will the Minister admit that without action to tackle low pay or deal with soaring rents, the benefits bill will continue to rise?”
Mr Duncan Smith did not dispute Emma’s figures, but said that the number of claimants out of work had fallen.
The Secretary of State’s answer shows that under the Coalition, work is no longer a reliable route out of poverty. As Emma has pointed out in the past, the number of people in working poverty in South Shields has gone up under the Coalition. Today, two thirds of children in poverty come from working households.
Labour has pledged strong action to tackle to cost of living crisis, including measures to raise the minimum wage, outlaw exploitative zero hours contracts and introduce new stable tenancies that can protect tenants from out of control rent rises.
You can read Emma’s question in full, and the Secretary of State’s reply, by clicking here.
Speaking after Work and Pensions Questions, Emma said:
“The Secretary of State completely ignored the fact that under his Government millions of people now aren’t paid enough to cover their rent. In South Shields alone that means thousands of people who do the right thing and work hard, but still need Housing Benefit because their wages are just too low.
“People need to know that work can be a way out of poverty, but under this Government that is no longer the case. We need a government that will tackle low pay and keep housing affordable, and that is why I want to see a Labour government in 2015 that will raise the minimum wage and stop unacceptable rent rises.”