HC Deb 21 December 1988 vol 144 cc295-6W
Mr. Austin Mitchell

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what is his estimate of the number of adults and children who would become eligible for benefit if (i) the annual personal allowance for income tax, (ii) the one-parent benefit, (iii) the child dependency addition and (iv) both (i) and (ii), were terminated; and how many adults and children would fall into the poverty and employment traps;

(2) what is his estimate of the number of adults and children in households which would become eligible for benefit if child benefit was to be terminated.

Mr. Peter Lloyd

Reliable estimates of the eligible population for the main income-related benefits, and of those who might be eligible for them as a result of major policy changes to child benefit, can be obtained only through historical survey data giving firm details of family size and composition, numbers of earners in the family, total incomes and employment status. Presently available sample data pre-date the social security reform introduced in April 1988. Eligible populations based on this information are therefore more than usually uncertain.

There is no precise definition of the "poverty trap". Receipt of income-related benefits raises marginal deductions from income. In general, and with the exception of crossing lower rate national insurance contribution thresholds, no one should now face deduction rates of 100 per cent. or more, as could occur under the previous system.

No precise numerical definition of the unemployment trap exists, but the effect of the changes specified in the question on the numbers whose incomes are similar when in and out of work are likely to be small.

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