HC Deb 27 November 1989 vol 162 cc425-6
5. Mr Yeo

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the latest available figure for the number of households receiving family credit.

Mr. Newton

More than 320,000 families received family credit for the last week in July. That is the latest date for which comprehensive information is available.

Mr. Yeo

Does my right hon. Friend agree that family credit represents the best method of giving help to families on low incomes? Is not everyone who is concerned about the cost-effective use of resources now obliged to do their best to promote the take-up of family credit rather than to argue about child benefit?

Mr. Newton

I should welcome any efforts to improve take-up still further, but I am very pleased with the results of the campaign that we waged last spring. It raised the number of those in receipt of family credit by about 40,000. I hope that the campaign that we are about to mount will increase still further the numbers receiving family credit.

Mr. Molyneaux

Although I acknowledge the Department's efforts to increase the take-up of this benefit, will the Minister consider enlisting the aid of a range of voluntary organisations?

Mr. Newton

I shall gladly enlist the help of anyone who would like to help, because it is an important objective.

Mrs. Roe

Is family credit usually paid to the mother? Are there certain families on low incomes who benefit from family credit but who would not benefit from an increase in child benefit?

Mr. Newton

It is difficult to conceive of a rate of child benefit that would give as much help to many families as family credit gives, which may range between £25 and £30 a week, or more. As for the first part of my hon. Friend's question, family credit is received by the mother in the overwhelming majority of cases.

Mr. Rooker

Why does it take so long to get a new order book when the family credit order book is used up? Due to administrative bungling, families might have to live without any benefit whatsoever for five or six weeks. They also live in fear that their benefit may never be restored. Are those who qualified for family credit in July, but who did not get any money, included in the July figures?

Mr. Newton

The July figures include those whom we know were entitled to family credit in July and who have received it in respect of July. I acknowledge that there have been some administrative difficulties. We are seeking to improve our performance. If the hon. Gentleman has a particular case in mind, I shall gladly look into it.