HL Deb 16 January 1979 vol 397 c941WA

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will list the size of child benefit payments necessary to lift off family income supplement all families with (i) one child; (ii) two children; (iii) three children; (iv) four children; (v) five or more children.


If my noble friend's Question envisages that the family income supplement (FIS) scheme would be abolished and that the payments made to families under that scheme would be made by way of child benefit instead, so that no families were worse off, it would be necessary to increase the payments made under the universal child benefit scheme by amounts equal to the maximum weekly payments that can be made under the FIS scheme, that is £10.50 for a family with one child, plus £1 for each additional child. Thus the size of the child benefit payments would be as shown in the following table:

Amounts (£) to which child benefit payments would have to be increased
Families with Currentlystandard rate of child benefit £3 From April 1979—standard rate of child benefit £4
1 child 13.50 14.50
2 children 17.50 19.50
3 children 21.50 24.50
4 children 25.50 29.50
5 children 29.50 34.50
increasing in £4 steps for each subsequent child increasing in £5 steps for each subsequent child

The total number of families in receipt of FIS was about 96,000 in June 1978, of whom only 4,000 or so had maximum awards. There are, however, 7 million families receiving child benefit at the standard rate of £3 a week for each child (£4 from next April) and every £1 added to the standard rate costs £580 million. My noble friend will therefore appreciate that, apart from other considerations, the cost of such changes would be prohibitive.