HC Deb 07 February 1980 vol 978 cc288-9W
Mr. William Shelton

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will give details of his proposals for the remission of fees in relation to income in respect of the assisted places scheme.

Mr. Beith

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he intends that the parental limit for financial help under the assisted places scheme shall be the same as that applied in other clauses of the Education (No. 2) Bill to free school meals and free school transport; and, if not, if he will provide details of the limits which will be fixed.

Mr. Mark Carlisle

Following discussions between representatives of the Independent Schools Joint Council and my Department, I shall shortly be inviting comments from interested bodies on the following proposals for an income scale to determine the contributions from parents in respect of the fees payable for assisted places. To illustrate the effect of the proposals, a family with an only child who holds an assisted place and whose family income is £4,100 would pay nothing; at £6,000, £354, and at £7,800, £894.

  1. 1. The parental contribution to fees is based on family income before tax including earned and unearned income, but excluding child benefit and certain disability allowances. Contributions will be assessed by the schools in relation to income in the financial year preceding the school year to which the assessment relates. Parents will contribute their share of the fees as indicated by the scale and the balance of the fees will be paid to the school by the Department.
  2. 2. The income scale proposed incorporates an allowance of £300 in respect of each dependent child and each dependent adult excluding the parents. Where more than one child holds an assisted place it is proposed that the parental contribution in respect of the first child should be allowed against income in assessing the contribution in respect of the second, and of the first and second in respect of the third and so on.
  3. 3. No contribution to fees will be required from families with one child where family income does not exceed £4,000, the threshold for larger families increasing by £300 a child because of the dependent child allowance. In practice, however, parental contributions of less than £15 a year will be waived.
  4. 4. The scale of parental contribution increases in progressively steeper bands of 9 per cent., 12 per cent., 15 per cent., and 30 per 289 cent. of income above the threshold. A one child family ceases to be entitled to fee remission with a family income of £7,800; this threshold increases by £300 for each additional dependent child.
  5. 5. The table following is a compressed summary of the full scale, which would be set out in £3 multiples of parental contribution. Other examples of the effect of the proposal are:
    • a one child family with a family income of £4,400 would contribute £36 a year, as would a four child family with a family

Bands of contribution from income Income by family size*
One child Two children Three children Four children Parental contribution
£ £ £ £ £ per annum
9 per cent. of income above £4,000 4,000 4,300 4,600 4,900 Nil
4,167 4,467 4,767 5,067 15 and then in £3multiples to include
4,400 4,700 5,000 5,300 36
12 per cent, 4,600 4,900 5,200 5,500 60
4,800 5,100 5,400 5,700 84
15 per cent. 5,000 5,300 5,600 5,900 114
5,200 5,500 5,800 6,100 144
5,400 5,700 6,000 6,300 174
30 per cent. 5,500 5,800 6,100 6,400 204
6,000 6,300 6,600 6,900 354
6,500 6,800 7,100 7,400 504
7,000 7,300 7,600 7,900 654
7,500 7,800 8,100 8,400 804
7,800 8,100 8,400 8,700 894
* See paragraph 1 above.

Mr. Field

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many children were receiving free school meals in 1979; and what was the estimated take-up rate.

Mr. Macfarlane

On a day in October 1979, the number of pupils receiving a free meal in maintained schools in England was 898,768. No estimate is available of the take-up at that time.