HC Deb 18 June 1985 vol 81 cc161-2
12. Mr. Kennedy

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will consider adapting the proposed family credit plan in the social security Green Paper to enable mothers to claim directly the benefits for children which are currently proposed to be made payable through the pay packet of the wage earner.

Mr. Newton

Paying the proposed family credit through the pay packet is an important element in making the credit more effective than family income supplement has proved and in developing sensible co-ordination between the tax and social security systems. It could, of course, be paid to the mother where she is a wage earner.

Mr. Kennedy

I fully accept the point about the low take-up of family income supplement, but does the Minister agree that paying family credit through the wage packet may not overcome that problem, because a great deal will depend on the co-operation of employers? Does he also agree that in nine cases out of 10 it makes eminent sense for the mother, as the caring parent, to have direct access to funding for her children?

Mr. Newton

We have planned the new benefit with the hope and intention that take-up of family credit will be better than that of family income supplement, and we believe that the proposed mechanism will assist in achieving that objective. As for who should receive it, I remind the hon. Gentleman that the payment of child benefit will continue to go to the mother. Moreover, as has already been said, I believe that it is more realistic to regard the upbringing of children as a joint responsibility for both parents, and I think that that is how most families think of it.

Mr. Alfred Morris

Can the Minister give us a firm assurance that the Government's proposals in the Green Paper will not be allowed to result in any reduction in real terms of the totality of expenditure on cash benefits for disabled children and their families?

Mr. Newton

The right hon. Gentleman will know that, given that we do not intend to attempt to settle detailed benefit rates until we have made decisions about the structure, I cannot give him a direct answer to that question. He will, however, have heard my speech in the debate last week when I made it clear that I would expect disabled people generally to be among those whose position would be improved by our proposals.

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