Colleagues at the Department for Work and Pensions and I have been working around the clock to provide a vital safety net to millions of people. In 2023/24 alone, the Government will spend around £276 billion through the welfare system in Great Britain, including £124 billion on people of working age. I am immensely proud of our delivery record at the DWP and I am determined to see it continue.
Just this week, I signed new regulations to raise childcare payments by nearly 50%, up to £1,630 per month. As part of the Government’s biggest ever expansion to childcare provision, low-income families will be able to access increased childcare support worth a total of £900 million from 28 June.
These changes will help thousands of parents progress their careers without compromising the quality of the care that their children receive. You can read more about this here: https://www.mimsdavies.org.uk/news/mims-davies-mp-signs-massive-boost-childcare-payments
I also welcomed that both benefits and the State Pension were increased by 10.1 per cent in April 2023, in line with inflation. This represents the biggest-ever cash increase of the State Pension and an average uplift for households receiving Universal Credit of around £600.
I can assure you I recognise the pressures of rising living costs and has announced further cost-of-living support for 2023/24. That is why the Government is maintaining the Energy Price Guarantee at £2,500 between April and June 2023, saving the average household £160 for this period. This measure will ensure that households are supported through spring when energy costs are expected to remain high and until the effects of reduced wholesale prices are expected to feed through into lower household bills later this year. Taken together, the Government is subsidising around half of household energy bills.
Furthermore, at the Autumn Statement 2022, the Government announced a substantial support package for the most vulnerable for 2023/24, including £300 Cost-of-Living Payments for pensioners, £150 for people on disability benefits, and £900 for people on means-tested benefits. You can read more about the latest announcements here: https://www.mimsdavies.org.uk/news/mims-davies-mp-welcomes-extended-cost-living-payments Furthermore, the Government is also providing £1 billion of extra funding by extending the Household Support Fund to March 2024, bringing the total of the Fund to £2.5 billion.
Fundamentally, the Government believes that work is the best way out of poverty, and since 2010 the Government has reduced the number of workless households by one million. At the Spring Budget 2023, the Chancellor announced a suite of reforms to break down the barriers that stop people from working, centred around the long-term sick and disabled, welfare recipients, young people in care, older workers, and parents. In total, the Government is investing £3.5 billion over five years to boost workforce participation, including helping as many people as possible, such as parents, into work which will in turn grow the economy. I welcome this and I know my constituents do too.
In the meantime, I can assure you the DWP and I will continue to review benefit processes and procedures. For example, the Health and Disability White Paper sets out an ambitious policy reform package that will transform the health and disability benefits system and help disabled people and people with health conditions to start, stay and succeed in work.