Pensions and welfare

Mike Wood: I thank the shadow Minister for giving way. His point is entirely bogus, because as the Minister made clear, and as he knows, the Bill concerns purely employers’, and not employees’, contributions, so it does not tax anybody’s redundancy payment.


Peter Dowd Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury

Mike Wood: I congratulate my hon. Friend on securing this debate. Does he agree that one of the major barriers to children and young people exercising their rights under the UN convention on the rights of the child to be involved in decisions around their own care is difficulty in accessing the content of their personal files, and that this issue needs to be addressed across the country?


Tim Loughton Conservative, East Worthing and Shoreham

Mike Wood: What assessment the Government have made of the effectiveness of universal credit in helping people into work.


Amber Rudd The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

Mike Wood: What steps his Department is taking to improve social mobility.


Damian Hinds The Secretary of State for Education

Social mobility is one of our top priorities, and we have seen the attainment gap for disadvantaged pupils narrow at all levels, from pre-school to university entrance.


Mike Wood: Will my hon. Friend join me in welcoming the £1.7 billion announced in the Budget to increase work allowances for families with children, which will mean that 2.4 million families will be better off?


Alok Sharma (The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions)

Mike Wood: Although I originally studied law and was called to the Bar, I never practised, so I hope I may speak in the debate without being tied to any particular interest. This debate is increasingly showing a division between those on the side of personal injury practitioners, and those on the side of the overwhelming majority of our constituents who face the costs arising from an ever-escalating number of claims, of escalating value, for relatively minor injuries. My right hon.

Mike Wood: I welcome the announcement that Citizens Advice will be providing universal support in Dudley South and across the country. Can the Minister explain how this will benefit my constituents, and particularly their timely access to universal credit?


Alok Sharma The Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions

Mike Wood: What steps the Government have taken to enable industry to deliver the pensions dashboard.


Guy Opperman The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

An industry-led pensions dashboard, facilitated by Government, will harness industry innovation and provide an opportunity for the pensions industry to step up and take a leading role. We have engaged with the industry and are assessing the feasibility of a dashboard. We will report shortly on the findings.


Mike Wood: I am particularly pleased to see the Minister for financial inclusion, the Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, my hon. Friend Guy Opperman, in the Chamber. He joined me in my constituency over the summer to meet a range of agencies involved in the day-to-day work with people claiming universal credit, which was rolled out there in the middle of last year. What was particularly striking was the evangelism of the jobcentre staff, particularly the work coaches, and the transformation in morale in the jobcentres.

Mike Wood: I understand the hon. Gentleman’s quite legitimate concerns, but perhaps I can offer a little reassurance following the roll-out that has already happened in Dudley. Many claimants and the jobcentre—particularly in Stourbridge—are seeing that universal credit gives extra flexibility to help cases that simply would not have received the help and appropriate support they needed under the old system. More people—precisely the kind of difficult cases that he refers to—are getting into work and staying in work.