HC Deb 04 December 1967 vol 755 cc948-9
40. Mr. Barnes

asked the First Secretary of State what steps he is taking to make it easier for low-income families to claim the various benefits to which they are entitled.

The First Secretary of State (Mr. Michael Stewart)

Increasing efforts are being made by a variety of means to bring these benefits to the notice of eligible families.

Mr. Barnes

Will my right hon. Friend take steps to co-ordinate the various selective services which local authorities administer and, in particular, encourage local authorities to carry out research to discover the extent to which these services are being under-used in their areas?

Mr. Stewart

A study is now under way in regard to local authority health and welfare services to see the extent to which low-income families are using these services and what further steps may be needed.

Mr. Worsley

Is the right hon. Gentleman in particular aware of the low proportion of families which are entitled to free school meals but are not taking them, and will he include this subject in the survey?

Mr. Stewart

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science has sent a circular to all local education departments about this matter and has prepared a personal message to all parents.

Mr. McNamara

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in that circular there is no mention of the fact that the fourth child of any family is entitled to free school meals and that this is an important step forward which should have been brought to the attention of all parents?

Mr. Stewart

I will draw that to the attention of my right hon. Friend.