HC Deb 30 October 1979 vol 972 cc503-5W
Mr. Field

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many parents are eligible for the increase in child benefit for the first child of single parent families; and if he will estimate (a) the number who will draw the benefit and (b) the number who will lose the increase because they are in receipt of other social security benefits.

Mrs. Chalker

Estimates are necessarily imprecise because of the conditions of eligibility; for example, lone parents are not eligible if they have been separated for less than 13 weeks. The most recent estimate—late 1978—of those eligible was of the order of 700,000. This included lone parents receiving supplementary benefit.

An estimated 360,000 lone parents were receiving the additional benefit in October this year. The number has been rising steadily.

The most recent estimate—late 1978—of the number of lone parents who receive the additional benefit but derive no immediate advantage from it because another social security benefit is in payment was some 70,000.

Mr. Field

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what would be the cost of increasing child benefit for the first child in one-parent families (a) for the remainder of the current year and (b) in a full year.

Mrs. Chalker

The additional child benefit which is payable to lone parents who satisfy the relevant conditions is being increased by 50p to £2.50 a week from 12 November. This increase will cost:

  1. (a) £3 million net over the remainder of the financial year, and
  2. (b) £8 million net for a full year.

Dr. Edmund Marshall

asked the Secretary of State for the Social Services when a full reply will be sent to the letter dated 2 August from the hon. Member for Goole to the Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Wallasey (Mrs. Chalker) about the child benefit application in respect of a young person at Knottingley.

Mrs. Chalker

I regret that, because of the increased number of inquiries about child benefit, it is not yet possible to provide a full reply. My private secretary wrote to the hon. Member on 24 October saying that benefit had been restored for the young person from 11 September. Entitlement for an earlier period is being investigated and as soon as inquiries are complete a full reply will be sent.