HC Deb 29 April 1986 vol 96 cc766-7
2. Mr. Knox

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the percentage take-up of one-parent benefit.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security (Mr. John Major)

The percentage take-up has steadily improved over recent years, and the latest available estimate shows that about 75 per cent. of those who stand to gain by claiming one-parent benefit are receiving it.

Mr. Knox

I accept that there has been a great improvement during the last few years, but does my hon. Friend not think that the figure is still disappointing? Does he have any plans to try to improve the percentage take-up?

Mr. Major

I share my hon. Friend's wish that the take-up should be improved. We shall continue with the brief television fillers, which have proved to be particularly successful in encouraging people to claim this benefit, as well as with the traditional advertisements, which appear in child benefit books and on leaflets and posters in a variety of places, notably surgeries, health centres, post offices, law centres and elsewhere. I hope that in this fashion we will increase the take-up.

Mr. John Mark Taylor

Would my hon. Friend care to speculate upon how many people do not take up the one-parent benefit, although they are entitled to it, and upon what the cost would be if they did?

Mr. Major

I do not have the most recently available figures, but, broadly, about 100,000 families who could have claimed one-parent benefit did not take it up. According to the latest figures, the cost would have been about £18 million a year. I hope that in about three months' time we will be able to update those figures.