HL Deb 27 October 1987 vol 489 cc447-60

(weekly rates unless otherwise shown)

Old Rates 1987 New Rates 1988
Contributory Benefits
on own insurance—Category A or B 39.50 41.15
on spouse's insurance—Cat B (lower) 23.75 24.75
non-contributory—Cat C or D 23.75 24.75
—Cat C or D 14.20 14.80
additional pension, guaranteed minimum pension and graduated retirement benefit increased by 4.2%
graduated retirement benefit (unit) 5.17p 5.39p
increments to basic and additional pension, guaranteed minimum pension, and graduated retirement benefit increased by 4.2%
prescribed maximum amount of additional pension (also paid with widows' and invalidity benefits) (from 6th April) 29.11 34.75
addition at age 80 .25 .25
Invalidity pension 39.50 41.15
Invalidity allowance
higher rate 8.30 8.65
middle rate 5.30 5.50
lower rate 2.65 2.75
Widow's allowance 55.35 57.65
Widow's payment (lump sum) 1,000,00
Widowed mother's allowance 39.50 41.15
Widow's pension
standard rate 39.50 41.15
age related
54 (49) 36.74 38.27
53 (48) 33.97 35.39
52 (47) 31.21 32.51
51 (46) 28.44 29.63
50 (45) 25.68 26.75
49 (44) 22.91 23.87
48 (43) 20.15 20.99
47 (42) 17.38 18.11
46 (41) 14.62 15.23
45 (40) 11.85 12.35

Note: For entitlements arising before 11th April 1988 refer to age points shown in brackets.

over pension age 39.50 41.15
under pension age 31.45 32.75
occupational pension abatement 35.00 35.00
over pension age 37.85 39.45
under pension age 30.05 31.30
Old Rates 1987 New Rates 1988
earnings threshold 39.00 41.00
standard rate threshold 76.50 79.50
lower rate 32.85 34.25
standard rate 47.20 49.20
earnings threshold 39.00 41.00
lower rate 32.85 34.25
Widow's pension
first 26 weeks 55.35 57.65
lower permanent rate** 11.85 12.35
**Subject to Parliamentary approval of the Social Security Bill 1987.
18 and over, or under 18 with dependants
100% 64.50 67.20
90% 58.05 60.48
80% 51.60 53.76
70% 45.15 47.04
60% 38.70 40.32
50% 32.25 33.60
40% 25.80 26.88
30% 19.35 20.16
20% 12.90 13.44
under 18
100% 39.50 41.15
90% 35.55 37.04
80% 31.60 32.92
70% 27.65 28.81
60% 23.70 24.69
50% 19.75 20.58
40% 15.80 16.46
30% 11.85 12.35
20% 7.90 8.23
Maximum life gratuity (lump sum) 4,290.00 4,470.00
Unemployment Supplement 39.50 41.15
plus where appropriate an increase for early incapacity at
higher rate 8.30 8.65
middle rate 5.30 5.50
lower rate 2.65 2.75
Maximum reduced earnings allowance 25.80 26.88
Constant attendance allowance
part-time rate 12.90 13.45
normal maximum 25.80 26.90
intermediate rate 38.70 40.35
exceptional rate 51.60 53.80
Exceptionally severe disablement allowance 25.80 26.90
GUARDIAN'S ALLOWANCE—each child 8.05 8.40
Non-Contributory Benefits
Old Rates 1987 New Rates 1988
CHILD BENEFIT—each child 7.25 7.25
higher rate 31.60 32.95
lower rate 21.10 22.00
Old Rates 1987 New Rates 1988
Disablement pension (100% rates)
private or equivalent 64.50 67.20
officer (£ per annum) 3,363.00 3,504.00
Age allowances
40%–50% 4.50 4.70
over 50% but not over 70% 7.00 7.30
over 70% but not over 90% 10.05 10.45
over 90% 14.00 14.60
Disablement gratuity (£ per annum) base figures for
specified minor injury 4.290.00 4,470.00
unspecified minor injury 2,359.50 2,458.50
Unemployability allowance
personal allowance 41.95 43.70
adult dependency addition 23.75 24.75
addition for each child 8.05 8.40
Invalidity allowance
higher rate 8.30 8.65
middle rate 5.30 5.50
lower rate 2.65 2.75
Constant attendance allowance
part-time rate 12.90 13.45
normal maximum rate 25.80 26.90
intermediate rate 38.70 40.35
exceptional rate 51.60 53.80
Comforts allowance
higher rate 11.10 11.60
lower rate 5.55 5.80
Mobility supplement 24.55 25.60
Allowance for lowered standard of occupation (maximum) 25.80 26.88
Exceptionally severe disablement allowance 25.80 26.90
Severe disablement occupational allowance 12.90 13.45
Clothing allowance (per annum)
higher rate 88.00 92.00
lower rate 56.00 58.00
Education allowance (per annum) 120.00 120.00
War widows' pension (private)
widow 51.35 53.50
childless widow under age 40 11.85 12.35
age allowance
age 65 to 69 5.50 5.75
age 70 to 79 11.00 11.50
age 80 and over 13.85 14.45
child addition 11.60 12.00
addition for motherless or fatherless child 12.70 13.15
Unmarried dependant living as wife 49.30 51.45
Rent allowance (maximum) 19.55 20.35
Adult orphan's pension 39.50 41.15
Widower's pension (maximum) 51.35 53.50
Total disablement allowance and major incapacity allowance (maximum) 64.50 67.20
Partial disablement allowance 23.75 24.75
Unemployability supplement 39.50 41.15
plus where appropriate an increase for early incapacity at
higher rate 8.30 8.65
middle rate 5.30 5.50
lower rate 2.65 2.75
Constant attendance allowance
part-time rate 12.90 13.45
normal maximum rate 25.80 26.90
intermediate rate 38.70 40.35
exceptional rate 51.60 53.80
Exceptionally severe disablement
allowance 25.80 26.90
Old Rates 1987 New Rates 1988
Lesser incapacity allowance
based on loss of earnings over 31.60 32.95
maximum rate of allowance 23.75 24.75
Common Provisions
For spouse or person looking after children, with:
retirement pension on own insurance, invalidity pension, unemployability supplement and, if beneficiary over pension age, unemployment benefit 23.75 24.75
non-contributory retirement pension, invalid care allowance and severe disablement allowance 14.20 14.80
sickness benefit if beneficiary over pension age 22.70 23.65
unemployment benefit 19.40 20.20
sickness benefit, maternity allowance 18.60 19.40
For each child with:
retirement pension, widows' benefit, industrial death benefit, invalidity benefit, invalid care allowance, severe disablement allowance, unemployability supplement and, if beneficiary over pension age, with sickness or unemployment benefit 8.05 8.40
Retirement pension 75.00 75.00
Invalid care allowance 12.00 12.00
Unemployment benefit (daily rate) 2.00 2.00
Therapeutic earnings limit 26.00 27.00
Industrial injuries unemployability supplement permitted earnings level (annual amount) 1,352.00 1,404.00
War pensioners' unemployability supplement permitted earnings level (annual amount) 1,352.00 1,404.00
Adult dependency additions with:
sickness benefit if claimant is under pension age 18.60 19.40
over pension age 22.70 23.65
maternity allowance 18.60 19.40
unemployment benefit if claimant is
under pension age 19.40 20.20
over pension age 23.75 24.75
retirement pension, invalidity pension, severe disablement allowance and unemployability supplement where dependant:
is living with the claimant 31.45 32.75
still qualifies for the tapered earnings rule 45.09 45.09
retirement pension, invalidity pension and unemployability supplement where dependant not living with claimant 23.75 24.75
severe disablement allowance where dependant not living with claimant 14.20 14.80
invalid care allowance 14.20 14.80
Child dependency additions:
level at which child additions payable with long-term benefits are affected by earnings of claimant's spouse or partner
first child 85.00 90.00
each subsequent child 10.00 11.00
20% rate 7.90 8.25
40% rate 15.80 16.50
Income-Related Benefits
Old Rates 1987 New Rates 1988
upper limit 6,000.00
amount disregarded 3,000.00
child's limit 3,000.00
Tariff income
£1 for each complete £250 or part thereof between amount of capital disregarded and capital upper limit
Personal allowances
under age 18 19.40
age 18–24 26.05
age 25 or over 33.40
lone parent
under age 18 19.40
age 18 or over 33.40
both under age 18 38.80
at least one age 18 or over 51.45
dependent children
under age 11 10.75
age 11–15 16.10
age 16–17 19.40
age 18 26.05
family 6.15
lone parent (income support) 3.70
lone parent (housing benefit) 8.60
single 10.65
couple 16.25
pensioner (higher)
single 13.05
couple 18.60
single 13.05
couple 18.60
severe disability
single 24.75
couple (one disabled) 24.75
couple (both disabled) 49.50
disabled child 6.15
Maximum amounts for accommodation and meals in
(a) ordinary board and lodging between £45 and £70 between £45 and £70
(b) hostels 70.00 70.00
Maximum special increase ((a) and (b)) 17.50 17.50
(c) residential care homes old age 130.00 130.00
very dependent elderly 145.00 155.00
mental disorder (not handicap) 130.00 130.00
drug/alcohol dependence 130.00 130.00
mental handicap 150.00 160.00
physical disablement
under pension age 190.00 190.00
over pension age 130.00 130.00
others 130.00 130.00
maximum Greater London increase 17.50 17.50
(d) nursing homes
mental disorder (not handicap) 180.00 185.00
drug/alcohol dependence 180.00 185.00
mental handicap 200.00 200.00
terminal illness 230.00 230.00
physical disablement
under pension age 230.00 230.00
over pension age 175.00 185.00
others (including elderly) 175.00 185.00
maximum Greater London increase 17.50 17.50
Old Rates 1987 New Rates 1988
Allowances for personal expenses for claimants in board and lodging accommodation and hostels
single 10.00 10.30
couple 20.00 20.60
single 11.15 11.50
couple 22.30 23.00
dependent children
under age 11 3.35 3.45
age 11–15 5.15 5.30
age 16–17 6.00 6.20
age 18 10.00 10.30
private and voluntary residential care and nursing homes 9.25 9.55
dependent children allowances above apply except age 18 9.25 9.55
hospital and local authority (Part III) accommodation 7.90 8.25
the Polish Home, Ilford Park 11.15 11.50
Housing costs
deduction for non-dependants aged 18 or over and in remunerative work 8.20
others, aged 18 or over or on income support and over 25 3.45
low earnings threshold 49.20
Deductions for direct payment of fuel debt
5% rate 1.70
10% rate 3.35
arrears of housing costs 1.70
Reduction in benefit for strikers 17.00 17.70
standard earnings 5.00
higher earnings 15.00
war pensions 5.00
voluntary and charitable payments 5.00
students covenanted income 5.00
income from boarders 35.00
Expenses for subtenants
furnished or unfurnished 4.00
where heating is included, additional 6.70
Amenity deductions for
heating 6.70
hot water .80
lighting .50
cooking .80
all fuel 8.80
Non-dependant deductions rent rebates and allowances aged 18 or over and in remunerative work 8.20
others, aged 18 or over or on income support and over 25 3.45
rate rebates, aged 18 or over 3.00
low earnings threshold 49.20
Expenses for subtenants
furnished or unfurnished 4.00
where heating is included, additional 6.70
Earnings disregards
where disability premium awarded 15.00
various specified employments 15.00
lone parent 15.00
one of a couple in employment 10.00
single claimant 5.00
Other income disregards
charitable or voluntary payments 5.00
war pensions 5.00
students covenanted income 5.00
Old Rates 1987 New Rates 1988
Adult credit 32.10
Child credit
under age 11 6.05
age 11–15 11.40
age 16–17 14.70
age 18 21.35
upper limit 6,000.00
amount disregarded 3,000.00
child's limit 3,000.00
Tariff income
£1 for every complete £250 or part thereof between amount of capital disregarded and capital upper limit
war pensions 5.00
voluntary and charitable payments 5.00
students covenanted income 5.00
Expenses for subtenants
furnished or unfurnished 4.00
where heating is included, additional 6.70
Applicable amount (i.e. taper threshold level) 51.45

5.15 p.m.

Baroness Jeger

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for reading the Statement but I do not thank him for anything he said in it. I know that it is supposed to be within the rules of this House that Statements should not be the occasion for debate. I hope therefore that we may be given an occasion for fuller debate so that we do not take too long tonight on this Statement. But I must ask the noble Lord a few questions.

The retail price index, as published on 9th October, has been the basis of the changes in the pensions payment. But I am wondering whether the Government have considered that old people's expenditure does not always equate with the RPI because they often have different patterns of expenditure. Therefore linking the pensions' increase to the RPI does not always take care of old-age pensioners.

How much would the increase have been if the pensioners' upgrading had been linked to average earnings, as done by the previous Government? By linking it only to the RPI we are not increasing the standard of living of old people. We are just keeping them standing still. We are saying, "Your will receive 2p extra because the RPI is 2p extra". We are not including them in any increase in the average standard of living. We on these Benches think that the idea of linking pensions to the average standard of living and increase of wages was very important and did much more for old people. It is not fair just to say that they should stand still.

By how much would the Minister have to increase the pension if he had linked it to the level of earnings? I shall try to be as brief as I can because I know your Lordships have much to do, but I am looking at paragraph 5 in the Statement about housing benefit. There are to be some changes in housing benefit, but as there are to be changes in rent control we also have to consider increasing rents for decontrolled tenants. We wonder what is the connection between that and the housing benefit changes which are about to be made.

In paragraph 7 the Statement says that: personal allowances include the average amounts which we expect householders who are income support claimants will have to pay next April on their minimum contribution to domestic rates". We are all in a great muddle about rates and poll taxes. It is very difficult for us to understand from this Statement what will happen when the poll tax comes in. It uses the phrase "average amounts", but what if a family is below the average or above the average? There might be great hardships for a family who lives in a high rated area and where the only recompense is on an average basis. I do not want to go on much about this because I know we must talk about it again, but it is very important.

Paragraph 8 says that, personal allowances, leaving aside the element for domestic rates, would be some 4½ to 5 per cent. higher". How can the Government say, leaving aside the element for domestic rates", at a time when we do not know what domestic rates are to be? We shall insist on calling it a poll tax; the Government may go on calling it an element for domestic rates. How are we to know what impact that will have on the social security applications of people in need?

In paragraph 9 we are told that the number who gain will be 4.9 million and the number who lose will be 3.7 million. Are the Government really saying in this House that 3.7 million of our people are to be poorer because of government policies? Do they not care about the 3.7 million people who will have to lose as a result of what the Government are doing? I think we ought to know who these 3.7 million people are that the Government do not care about and are going to impoverish.

Then I come to paragraph 10 concerning housing benefit. The Minister has correctly read the Statement, which says: Under the new schemes, housing benefit claimants at all income levels will be fully reimbursed for any increases in their rent". Will that cover new applicants, people who take advantage of the decontrol of rents which we anticipate and who therefore are faced with higher rents, or does this paragraph apply only to people who are at present on housing benefit? This is important, because there are many implications about the Government's intention to relax rent controls. If people find their rents going up, what is to happen to their housing benefit?

I now have to ask most importantly about the child benefit. I gather from the Statement that child benefit is not to be increased in combination with insurance. That is a serious and a rather sad statement. I spent some of my happiest times in the other place when we were working out this system. and I know that many noble Lords were also there at the time. We decided to abolish the child income tax allowance and to have a universal child benefit. That was agreed by all sides of the House and we were very glad that there was no argument about it. There was to be an acceptance by Parliament of the responsibility of the whole community for the welfare and the upbringing of children.

Since the abolition of the child tax allowance, child benefit increases have been the only means of maintaining some equity between taxpayers with children and taxpayers without children. That was agreed over the years. There was all-party support for the universality of the system. It was the only universal means of child support. All political parties thought that this was a good idea. One did not have to do the individual means testing. If people had children they should have some money. It was important because, having said that people were not going to get child allowance through their income tax, the only way to deal with child support was through child benefit.

Some Ministers have said that it is not good enough because a rich lady does not need it. I say to the Minister that a millionaire lady and a millionaire gentleman living together can receive between them mortgage tax relief not on £30,000 but on £60,000, just because they are not married. I find it extraordinary for the party of family care, which gives money to the non-family, to say that rich ladies should not have child benefit. They do not mind rich ladies having tax relief on a mortgage. I find that difficult to understand.

I shall not speak for too long, tempted though I am, but I must remind the Minister of the words of the Conservative Party manifesto: Child benefit will continue to be paid as now, and direct to the mother". Perhaps the Minister can tell us what "child benefit will continue to be paid as now" means. Does it mean the actual sum as now, or as now as part of the social security that was linked to inflation?

Child benefit was not fully uprated in November 1985. That cut has not been restored. So when the Minister says that the amount will be held as it was, it is not being frozen as such but frozen at a subfreezing rate. There has been no increase to keep up with inflation since 1985. I very much regret that, and I know that noble Lords on all sides of the House regret it.

It is important to have one benefit which reflects the fact that the family is an important element in our society. We may say that we shall look after these people through family income supplement or whatever it is, but we know that the great benefit of the present arrangement is that child benefit is universal. There is no means test. Nobody has to go to the social security office. There are no procedures. But if we say that people must go and apply for the benefit if they think they are poor then we get into the position—and I ask the Minister to correct me if I am wrong—of a low take-up because of bureaucratic procedure.

I understand from questions I have asked in this House that on family income supplement there is a take-up of only two out of five. Child benefit has no bureaucratic procedure. If the Government are trying to say that they will freeze the present amount because people can ask for a little more on one of the other proposals then I say to them that there are many people in this country—and I am sure the Minister must know of some among his friends and neighbours—who are just above the level of family income supplement but who need the money. They are not at the bottom, but if they are bringing up three or four children and want them to have a rich and happy life they need this money.

An important point is that the money goes to the mother and any reduction in the amount paid in child benefit reduces the family income. If more applicants go on to family income supplement then the money will not go to the mother. That is one of the most important aspects of child benefit. Anything which reduces the total value of child benefit means a reduction in the money which the mother has in her purse. I have not heard anything in the Minister's Statement to suggest that there will be full support for her. Let us face it; it is the mother who most often has to work out the family income.

I hope that we shall have an opportunity for a full debate, but in the meantime I felt I had to ask the Minister those few questions.

Lord Banks

My Lords, I too should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, for repeating the Statement made in another place. We shall of course need time to consider the figures contained in the Statement and also the figures which accompany it. It is the first time we have had actual figures as opposed to illustrative figures for the new regime to come into force in April, and we shall want to scrutinise those very carefully. The basic criticisms of the new regime which we made when the Bill was before the House last year remain. We shall look forward to debating the figures in this House when we have the regulations before us.

As prophesied in the press, child benefit is to be frozen. It is not to increase in line with prices. As the noble Baroness, Lady Jeger, pointed out, this is the second year that this has been done. In 1985 there was a shortfall of 35p. This year there is to be a shortfall of 30p. We on these Benches deplore this reduction in the real value of child benefit. As the noble Baroness, Lady Jeger, pointed out, child benefit was introduced partly as a replacement for income tax allowances for children, and therefore it should go up when personal allowances go up.

However, the single person's allowance is now 14 per cent. more than in 1979, the married man's allowance 17 per cent. more than in 1979, and child benefit 3 per cent. lower than in 1979. Of course we should bear in mind that the cost of the single person's allowance and the cost of the married man's allowance do not appear as government expenditure. That is the nonsense of the whole thing. If you turn the allowances into a positive cash payment it immediately represents benefit although the total cost to the Government may be no different at all.

In view of what has appeared in the press, I should like to ask the noble Minister whether he can give the House an assurance that the Government have no plans to abolish child benefit, to means test child benefit, or to tax child benefit. The Government seem to be hostile to universal benefits such as child benefit. But is it not a fact that they have a much better take-up than selective benefits and that they do not divide the population into independent and dependent sections? Finally, we on these Benches would see as our long-term aim an integrated tax and social security system in the form of a tax credit scheme with, so far as possible, universal benefits allowing the tax system to redistribute so that the poorest benefit most from the combined effect of tax and benefit. We have seen child benefit as the first tax credit. We want to see the remaining personal allowances treated in the same way as children's allowances were treated. I invite the House to consider the scope that this would give for further help to the poorest.

5.30 p.m.

Lord Skelmersdale

My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Jeger, and to the noble Lord, Lord Banks, for their fairly moderate responses to the Statement. I am sure the whole House will join with me in welcoming one particular aspect of the Statement. Now that we are back on an even keel with the annual upratings, the increase in retirement pension seems a much more satisfactory amount than at the two previous upratings, although they were of course both fully in line with inflation.

Both the noble Baroness and the noble Lord kicked off, as it were, with the matter of pensioners. Perhaps I had better do the same in response. Pensioners' incomes grew on average by 2.7 per cent. a year in real terms between 1979 and 1985—that is 18 per cent. over the period—compared with only 0.6 per cent. a year between 1974 and 1979, which was 3 per cent. over the period. The figures are for income units. The rate of increase since 1979 has been more than twice as fast as for the population as a whole.

It is, of course, misleading to look only at pensioners' income from pensions. I am reminded that Beveridge, for example, never intended pensions to be more than a foundation for retired people's incomes. He wrote that rates of pension should be set under the assumption that, voluntary insurance and saving will be encouraged and made easy. Other parts of the reforms have sought to achieve that objective.

The noble Baroness asked about the linking of pensions to earnings. The level of basic retirement pension would have been £43.70 for the single person and £69.90 for a couple in April 1987 if the pension had been increased in line with average earnings over the period November 1978 to September 1986. This compares with £39.50 and £63.25 actual rates. The cost of paying this level of benefit for retirement pensions. other linked benefits and supplementary pensions, would have been about £2 billion extra in 1987–88.

The noble Baroness moved on to the matter of housing benefits. I must tell her that the housing benefit controls will not deny people on low incomes access to help with their housing costs for accommodation that is reasonable for their needs. In 1979, expenditure on the equivalent of housing benefit amounted to £1.25 billion a year. Today it is over £5 billion. That is a quite staggering increase. In real terms the cost of the scheme has more than doubled.

Noble Lords opposite will, I have no doubt, quote reasons for this and I see the noble Baroness nodding. Clearly unemployment and higher rent and rate levels have played their part. But that is far from the whole story. In my view, it would be highly irresponsible to ignore such rapid growth in expenditure and the fact that two households in the country—every two—are subsidising the rent and rates of a third.

I confirm to the noble Baroness that there is still no difference between people with children and those without so far as housing benefit is concerned. I think that that was her point. It is rent and rates that matter. The noble Baroness asked whether all housing benefit applicants would also be protected against rent increases. The answer, in short, is yes. There will be no difference in the treatment of claimants who get housing benefit now and those who claim in the future. The same rules will apply to everyone.

I believe that the whole House might do well to remember—and I think I include the noble Baroness and the noble Lord in this remark—that we are discussing an annual uprating statement. Therefore the matter of the community charge does not enter into it. It will not be in force before whoever speaks on this subject from this Box makes the next Statement and quite likely the one after that, although I would not hold the Government to that particular remark.

The noble Baroness and the noble Lord moved on to child benefit. As the Statement points out, child benefit represents 10 per cent. of social security expenditure. But of course any increases mainly benefit the better off whose real incomes are rising anyway. Higher child benefit gives no help to those on income-related benefits who lose with one hand what they gain with the other. When there is an increase in child benefit, this is essentially deducted from child dependency addition. Savings are being re-directed to those in greatest need. Whatever noble Lords say about the Social Security Act—and I hope they are beginning to find it slightly better than their original observations indicated—it was intended to move the benefits to those most in need. This is an example of that happening.

Despite the non-uprating, all mothers from April will still receive a worthwhile contribution towards the cost of children. Child benefit continues to help all income brackets, but with the cost at over £4½ billion a year regard must be had to the most effective use of those resources. We aim to target help to families who are in greatest need. I must remind the noble Baroness that there is no statutory requirement to uprate child benefit. The net saving is £120 million a year, but over £200 million extra a year will be spent on family credit compared to family income supplement.

It would be wrong to see the child benefit change in isolation. In fact, from her latter remarks, I do not think that the noble Baroness intended to see it in that light. The parallel improvements we are making next April in income-related benefits will end the worst feature of the poverty trap, and the introduction of family credit will improve the unemployment trap more directly and cost effectively by increasing family income from low paid work. My right honourable friend has no specific proposals at present to change the nature of child benefit, but in view of its cost and its ill-targeted nature we clearly need to keep it constantly under review.

The noble Baroness and the noble Lord are worried that family income supplement and family credit is not paid to the mother. I can confirm that both those benefits will be paid to the caring parent and if that is the mother then the mother will receive it.

Last but not least, I was asked about the take-up of family income supplement. The current general level of take-up is not as bad as we are sometimes told. The latest published figures show that 89 per cent. of supplementary benefit expenditure, 88 per cent. of housing benefit and 65 per cent. of family income supplement is claimed. Secondly, we expect higher family credit take-up. This would be achieved by improved publicity and the fact that a bigger benefit will be better known.

I am sure that there are some points that I have failed to answer but I think that probably I have said enough for the time being.

Baroness Ewart-Biggs

My Lords, I should like to support what was said by my noble friend Lady Jeger and the noble Lord, Lord Banks, in relation to the freezing of child benefit. The Minister must be aware that all those interested and involved in child poverty agree that universally child benefit helps poor families the most. Surely the Minister will agree that poor families with children have fallen behind in the poverty stakes. Compared with our European partners we have lagged behind in family support, and particularly as compared with the French, who are more generous with their universal benefits for children.

I understand that the freezing of child benefit will mean a 30p cut across the board in real terms. Does the Minister consider that families may not be compensated for a loss of child benefit because of the low take-up of family credit, about which the Government are worried? Will he confirm that child benefit will not become means tested or like the maternity benefit, falling so low that the Government will think it not worth handing out? Will he confirm that neither of those things will happen to child benefit?

Lord Skelmersdale

My Lords, my right honourable friend has no present intention to means test child benefit.

When referring to child benefits I was referring to a difference of 30p. If people seriously wish to use that benefit to float people off income related benefits, approximately double the benefit would be needed at a cost of over £3 billion. The way to help poorer families is through income support and family credit.

Lord Jacques

My Lords, I should like to point out to the Minister that he has quoted Beveridge entirely out of context. Beveridge assumed that there was full employment and that people received wages out of which they could save. He would have been appalled by the mass unemployment that we have today.

Lord Skelmersdale

My Lords, maybe he would, but the quotes I used were to illustrate the point that not even Beveridge intended that the pension benefit should be the total income of pensioners, and nor is it in 70 per cent. of the cases. That is a point which I made clear earlier.

Baroness Turner of Camden

My Lords—

Lord Denham

My Lords, will the noble Baroness bear with me, because the Standing Orders are explicit on this point? A Statement should not be made the subject of a debate, and we are coming to that point. A large number of points have been made from the Front Bench opposite and from the Front Bench across the way. If we could get back to normal business I believe that the House would be more in keeping with Standing Orders.

Baroness Turner of Camden

My Lords, will the noble Lord promise a debate on this issue?

Lord Denham

My Lords, no I cannot promise that, because this is a matter for the usual channels. Sometimes the Government give time for an issue of this kind and sometimes the Opposition parties use one of their days. I can make no such promise.