HC Deb 17 November 1997 vol 301 cc80-2W
22. Mr. Cousins

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what measures she proposes to take to assist low-income working lone parents. [14651]

Mr. Keith Bradley

The Government firmly believe that work is the best form of welfare and are committed to supporting all families, including lone parents, to improve their standard of living through work.

We recognise that lone parents, in particular, need assistance if they are to prosper. We are therefore taking a number of steps which will support low income working lone parents.

We are committed to the development of a National Childcare Strategy to plan the provision of childcare and will make an announcement by the end of the year. As a first step, from June 1998, the childcare disregard in Family Credit will be increased to £100 for families

paying childcare costs for two or more children and the age limit will be extended to the September after the 12th birthday.

We are reviewing all aspects of the Child Support Agency to ensure it provides a fair, efficient, and effective service. Maintenance is a portable income which lone mothers keep when they move into work and they need to know the Child Support Agency will take every action to ensure that it is paid.

We will implement a Minimum Wage which will provide a statutory level beneath which pay should not fall and will remove the worst excesses of low pay and exploitation of vulnerable workers.

We are also examining the interaction of the tax and benefit systems so that they can be streamlined and modernised, so as to fulfil our objectives of promoting work incentives, reducing poverty and welfare dependency, and strengthening community and family life.

33. Mr. Andy King

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if she will make a statement on the role of childcare in the Government's new deal for lone parents. [14664]

Mr. Keith Bradley

The Government recognise the importance of good quality, affordable childcare, for all working parents, but in particular for lone parents who have to cope with bringing up children alone. That is why, when we launched the New Deal for Lone Parents in July this year, additional funds were made available to meet childcare expenses while lone parents undertake jobsearch activities.

New Deal Advisers are able to offer up to £60 per week to each lone parent to help them pay for childcare while they attend job interviews or training.

New Deal Advisers also have access to information on local childcare services so they can help lone parents find the most suitable childcare for their children.

In addition, the Cambridge and Peterborough New Deal for Lone parent areas have the added facility of public access to information via the Internet. This is provided through an information kiosk in the waiting area of each and allows lone parents to access information personally on childcare, jobs, training and benefits. We intend to extend this service to around other offices in the 8 New Deal areas.

Mr. Webb

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many lone parents(a) receiving income support and (b) not receiving income support but receiving one-parent benefit are (i) widowed, (ii) divorced, (iii) separated and (iv) never married. [16210]

Mr. Keith Bradley

The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is set out in the tables.

Lone parents receiving income support/one parent benefit (November/December 1996)
Income support 1,022,000
Not receiving income support but receiving one parent benefit 639,000

Marital status of recipients Income support recipients Non-income support/one parent benefit recipients
Widowed 22 23
Divorced 28 50
Separated 23 216
Never married 47 31

Notes:1 Information taken from the 1995–96 Family Resources Survey as no information is available from Departmental administrative data.

2 Figures based on very small sample sizes and so may be unreliable.

1. Lone parents on income support are defined as those in receipt of the lone parent premium.

2. All figures have been rounded to the nearest thousand.

3. Survey and administrative data are not directly comparable.

Sources:Income Support Quarterly Statistical Enquiry, November 1996 (5 per cent. sample).

2. 1 per cent. sample of the Child Benefit Computer System, 31 December 1996.

3. 1995–96 Family Resources Survey.