HC Deb 11 November 1991 vol 198 cc353-5W
Mr. Battle

To ask the Prime Minister if he will list all Government policy initiatives taken since 1987 which aim to assist single parents.

The Prime Minister

The information is set out in the table.

Policy initiatives taken since 1987 to assist lone parents
Department/Date Policy initiative
EMPLOYMENT September 1988 Lone parents who have been in receipt of Income Support for at least 26 weeks may enter Employment Training even if they do not meet the usual eligibility criteria.
HEALTH Since 1987 The National Council for One Parent Families and Gingerbread have received over £1 million in core grants.
Since 1987–88 Gingerbread has received a total of £90,000 for its local groups from the Department's under fives small grants scheme.

Department/Date Policy initiative
Early 1988 Over £1 million of the RPI error monies was spent by 10 voluntary organisations on many different projects for lone parents.
Since 1989–90 The second Under Fives Initiative includes 4 local projects, costing in all over £300,000, to help understand better the effect of childcare services on the economic circumstances of lone parents.
HOME OFFICE 1991 In the Maintenance Enforcement Act 1991 the Government has given courts additional powers to enforce the payment of maintenance, which will help to ensure that single parents receive the monies to which they are entitled. The Act will be implemented in spring 1992.
LORD CHANCELLOR'S 1989 Single Parents can benefit from the new orders provided under the Children Act 1989. One of the Act's main principles is that parents should, wherever possible, come to an agreement about the future of their children without the intervention of the court.
The Act also gives unmarried fathers the chance to apply for formal parental responsibility for their children.
SOCIAL SECURITY April 1988 The structure of personal allowances in Income Support provide that all lone parents aged 18 or over receive the full adult rate of benefit, normally only available from age 25.
The Income Support lone parent premium is paid on top of the family premium to those lone parents who do not qualify for another type of premium.
Income Support earnings disregard is £15 a week for lone parents, compared with a £5 disregard for most single people.
Family Credit introduced: a much more generous scheme for all low income families than the Family Income Supplement scheme.
In Family Credit lone parents get the same adult credit as two parent families.
One Parent Benefit is ignored when calculating entitlement to Family Credit.
Higher levels of lone parent premium in Housing Benefit and Community Charge Benefit.
Housing Benefit and Community Charge Benefit rules for lone parents generally aligned with those in Income Support.
October 1989 Lone parents under 18 who have to live away from home entitled to the over 18 rate of Income Support personal allowance.
April 1990 Lone parent premium in Housing Benefit and Community Charge Benefit increased.
October 1990 Earnings disregard for those lone parents not on Income Support but receiving Housing Benefit or Community Charge Benefit increased from £15 to £25 a week.
Planned for April 1992 Reduction in qualifying hours rule in Family Credit from 24 to 16 hours a week. Corresponding change in Income Support.
Introduction of £15 maintenance disregard in Family Credit, Disability Working Allowance, Housing Benefit and Community Charge Benefit.
Child Support Unit Becomes operational and takes on existing liable relative work in preparation for the establishment of the Child Support Agency.

Department/Date Policy initiative
Planned for Spring 1993 Child Support Agency becomes operational. The Agency will trace absent parents, assess, collect and review child maintenance, and ensure that payments are made regularly.
WELSH OFFICE Gingerbread is helped through the Support for Child and Family Services' grant scheme.
1991–92 A total of £24,440 has been awarded to Gingerbread to meet part of the costs of their Swansea office and of a development officer in North Wales.