HC Deb 22 October 1984 vol 65 cc509-10W
Mrs. Peacock

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the recent report of the National Council of One-Parent Families, dealing with the fall in weekly income of such families.

Mr. Whitney

The figures quoted by the National Council of One-Parent Families cannot be used to prove a fall in the income of one-parent families between 1981 and 1982. The figures were extracted from the family expenditure survey, but related only to the income of "single adult households" with children and this group is not, and is not intended to be, equivalent to one parent families as normally defined. This is because a "single adult household":

  1. a. can include married women whose husbands are temporarily away from home yet contributing to the household; and
  2. b. it includes families where the only child is a non-dependant 16 or 17 years old; and
  3. c. it excludes single parents living as part of a wider household.

Recalculation of the FES data to coincide more accurately with the one-parent family population indicates an increase of average gross income from £83.50 to £90 a week between 1981 and 1982; which included an increase in average benefit income from £33 to £38.50. The average income of those one-parent families living alone, rather than as part of a wider household, was virtually unchanged at £89.50 a week. However, it should be borne in mind that the number of sample cases on which all of these estimates are based is small so that the estimated average incomes are subject to significant sampling error.