HC Deb 07 March 1995 vol 256 cc166-7W
Mr. Streeter

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the Government's policy on encouraging all lone parents into employment and on providing incentives to that end; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Burt

It is our policy to encourage lone parents to take up and stay in work. Improving work incentives is the most effective way of ensuring that lone parents leave benefit dependency; this offers the best long-term prospects for the families involved and produces savings for the public purse. Research indicates that most lone parents want to work. We have been very successful in encouraging lone parents to move from dependency on income support to work supplemented by family credit. In 1988, there was one working lone parent on family credit for every 10 on income support; by 1994, the proportion was almost one for every four.

In April 1992, we changed the qualifying hours of work for family credit from 24 hours to 16 hours a week. Currently, 120,000 lone parents work between 16 and 24 hours a week and receive family credit; many of these had previously been dependent on income support. Last October, we introduced the child care disregard to remove a stumbling block preventing some parents returning to work. This is worth up to £28 a week extra in family credit. In the long term, we expect that 150,000 families, mostly lone parents, will benefit from this change. The work incentives package announced last November includes measures to help people returning to work, such as the four-week extension of housing benefit, the national insurance contribution holiday for employers, and the hack to work bonus. All of these will apply to lone parents and unemployed people. In January 1995, the child support White Paper announced a new scheme giving a credit for maintenance received by parents with care on income support. This scheme—the child maintenance bonus—will provide further help on returning to work through a lump sum of up to £1,000.

Mr. Butterfill

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many lone mothers receive means-tested benefits; and what proportion of these are(a) tuner married, (b) separated wives, (c) divorced women and (d) widows and wives of pensioners.

Mr. Burt

The information is not available in the form requested. Such information as is available is in the tables:

Table 1: Numbers of lone mothers in receipt of family credit, disability working allowance or income support in May 1993
Numbers in receipt of Total
Family credit 200,000
Disability working allowance
Income support with no family credit or disability working allowance 987,000

Table 2: Numbers of lone parents in receipt of housing benefit/council tax benefit but not in receipt of family credit, disability working allowance or income support, in May 1993
Numbers in receipt of Total
Housing benefit 46,000
Council tax benefit 44,000


Income Support Annual Statistical Enquiry May 1993.

Family Credit Statistical System. This is a 5 per cent. sample of awards made.

Disability Working Allowance Statistical System.

Housing Benefit/Council Tax Benefit MIS annual 1 per cent. sample.


  1. 1. The figures refer to Great Britain and have been rounded to the nearest thousand.
  2. 2. There will be considerable overlap in table 2 as many cases receive both HB and CTB, but due to the collection procedure these cannot he identified.
  3. 3. For HB and CTB it is not possible to distinguish lone mothers horn lone fathers. This information refers to lone parent rather than lone mother.

The marital status breakdown is only available for the income support data and is shown in the following table:

Table 3:
Marital status Total
(a) never married 463,000
(b) separated 313,000
(c) divorced 192,000
(d) widowed 16,000


Income Support Annual Statistical Enquiry May 1993.