HC Deb 17 July 1980 vol 988 cc677-8W
Mr. Field

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Birkenhead, Official Report, 4 June, column 734, if he will make a statement on the large number of single men with children receiving additional personal allowance; what is his precise understanding of the term "one-parent family" as used in that question; and whether this understanding is consistently used by Her Majesty's Government in replies to parliamentary questions.

Mr. Peter Rees

As stated in the reply to which the hon. Member refers, the figures quoted there for one-parent families with children were based on numbers of taxpayers claiming child tax allowances in 1977–78, and not on the numbers claiming the additional personal allowance. Based on the same year, it is estimated that about 140,000 male taxpayers with single personal allowances also benefit from the additional personal allowance and that about 260,000 female taxpayers with single personal allowances benefit similarly. Virtually all of these would currently pay tax at the basic rate.

From tax sources it is possible to identify one-parent families only by reference to the tax allowances claimed. In general, the child tax allowance depends on maintenance of the child and the additional personal allowance on residence of the child, but this is not uniformly the case. Both allowances can be split between separated parents and it is also possible that the parent who can derive most benefit from the allowance will arrange with the other parent to claim it. Moreover, a man living with a woman to whom he is not married is not entitled to the married allowance, but may be eligible for the child tax allowance and the additional personal allowance where the household includes children.

A definition based on receipt of tax allowances necessarily does not correspond exactly with that used for informa- tion from the other sources, where non-taxpayers are included. In this connection I refer the hon. Member to the answer by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security to the hon. Member for wood Green (Mr. Race) on 6 May 1980.