HC Deb 03 July 1989 vol 156 c8
7. Mr. Riddick

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many families on low incomes have experienced an increase in their incomes in real terms as a result of the introduction of family credit; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Moore

Precise estimates of real increases in income are not possible, but family credit is now providing more help to more families. The average amount in payment is over £25 compared with £15.28 for family income supplement and the very latest figures show that at the end of last week 263,400 awards were actually in payment. But with 86,400 claims still being processed I estimate that the underlying case load is now 315,000.

Mr. Riddick

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that many families at the bottom end of the income scale are definitely better off since family credit was introduced? However much the Opposition might huff and puff, that cannot be denied. Does he agree that rather than handing out indiscrimimate blanket subsidies through child benefit, it is far more sensible to target those families who genuinely need help through family credit, as the Government are now doing?

Mr. Moore

I remind my hon. Friend of what my right hon. Friend the Minister for Social Security said in a debate not too long ago: that there is a judicious mix of targeted benefits that go along with, as in the case with income support, a special family premium and family credit. I am delighted that there has been a major improvement in take-up consequent upon the advertising campaign. We are spending £4.5 billion out of a budget of £9 billion on help to families with children. I remind my hon. Friend of what we said in our election manifesto on the issue, as well as of my statutory duties. We are seeking to achieve a balance between broad, targeted benefits and indiscriminate benefits of the child benefit kind.

Mr. Frank Field

As the Government are so pleased with the take-up of family credit, may we assume that they are equally pleased with the amendment that was passed recently in the other place linking increases in child benefit to the increases in this new, super family credit?

Mr. Moore

I am as pleased as I am sure the hon. Member is that additional help is going to families on low incomes. The hon. Gentleman is referring to an entirely different matter. The other place is still considering the Social Security Bill, which will return to this House at some stage. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members will recall vividly that the House took a clear decision on the subject earlier this year.

Mr. Knapman

Does my right hon. Friend agree that those on low incomes are most affected by inflation and that it ill behoves the Opposition to lecture us on either subject?

Mr. Moore

That is absolutely right. For generations inflation destroyed the savings of pensioners. Above all else, we must ensure that we eradicate inflation.