Thank you for contacting me about low income families and the changes to Tax Credits.

I am confident that these changes will ensure that work is encouraged and put the welfare system on a more sustainable footing. The sheer scale of Tax Credits is subsidising lower wages in a way that was never intended. By focusing Tax Credits and Universal Credit on those on lower incomes, and freezing in working age benefits for four-years, the welfare system will be kept affordable and provide support for those most in need.

I believe these changes are fair and they return tax credit spending to 2007-08 levels. Importantly, the timing of these changes comes alongside the rise to the minimum wage to £6.70 from October 2015 and the introduction of a new "Living Wage" – a premium on the minimum wage for over 25s. This will be set at £7.20 from April 2016 and I welcome that Ministers are aiming for all over 25s to earn at least £9 per hour by 2020, a direct pay rise to over 2 million worked worth up to £5000 per year.

The Government has also committed to its promise to maintain child benefit and I can also confirm that, from September 2017, all working parents of 3 and 4 year olds will receive free childcare of up to 30 hours a week.

Taken together, I am confident these measures will help more people get back into work, increase their hours and progress to a higher wage. I am already encouraged that the Government’s welfare reforms are yielding results. There are now a record number of people in work and the proportion of workless families, and the proportion of children living in workless families are both the lowest since records began in 1996. In NE Beds in June, unemployed claimants were 716 - this is 174 lower than the same month last year and lower than May this year. So a helpful trend.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.