HC Deb 13 January 1998 vol 304 cc206-8W
Dr. Lynne Jones

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what assessment she has made of the impact of the withdrawal of lone parent benefits on those fleeing domestic violence. [22374]

Mr. Keith Bradley

New lone parents, including those fleeing domestic violence, will continue to receive the same rate of Child Benefit as couples with children. Lone parents who make a new claim for Income Support, Jobseeker's Allowance, Housing Benefit of Council Tax Benefit will receive the same rate of family premium as couples with children.

A parent who has experienced domestic violence and decides to leave their partner can seek help from a variety of sources. These include the police, Women's Aid or a local refuge, Social Services and health professionals at a doctor's surgery or Hospital. The key is for agencies to work together locally to ensure that they provide effective support to those contacting them for help, and refer them on to other agencies, such a Housing or a local refuge, where necessary.

Mr. Öpik

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if she will make a statement regarding her policy on benefits for single parents in work on low wages. [22466]

Mr. Keith Bradley

The Government believe that work is the best form of welfare. Our priority is to provide all families, including lone parents, with the support they need to make the transition into work and to support themselves in work. We have already undertaken a number of important steps to help achieve this.

Childcare plays a crucial role in supporting lone parents in work as they need access to affordable, good quality childcare to help balance work and family life successfully. That is why our Manifesto gave a commitment to introduce a National Childcare Strategy. That commitment is already becoming a reality.

The massive boost in childcare provision which was announced by my right hon. Friend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his pre-Budget statement means every child will have access to out of school care in their community. We are investing an extra £300 million to provide an extra 30,000 out of school clubs—a tenfold increase on existing provision. We have guaranteed a nursery place for every four year old in Britain and provided specific help in the New Deal for Lone Parents towards the cost of childcare.

In addition, the improvements to the childcare disregard scheme in the in-work benefits from June 1998, means parents will be able to receive up to £95.50 a week towards the cost of their childcare. There will also be more help with the cost of childcare through the Working Families Tax Credit.

We are also 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.

The implementation of a National Minimum Wage will also benefit all low income families. It 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.

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

Mr. Webb

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the average(a) rent of tenants and (b) mortgage interest for homebuyers in respect of lone parents in the New Deal pilot areas. [22530]

Mr. Keith Bradley

The information requested is not available.

Mr. Webb

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what proportion of lone parents on income support are(a) tenants, (b) owner occupiers with mortgages, (c) owner occupiers who own outright and (d) non-householders; and what is their (i) mean and (ii) median gross weekly housing costs. [22531]

Mr. Keith Bradley

The information is set out in the table.

Gross weekly housing costs for household (£s)
Household tenure Proportion (per cent.) Mean Median
Tenants 82 54 47
Owner occupiers with mortgage 12 56 45
Own outright 1 1 1
Non-householders 6 not applicable not applicable
1 Denotes nil or negligible.

1. The figures are based on information from the 1995–96 Family Resources Survey (FRS). The 1995–96 survey is the latest for which data are available.

Mr. Webb

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what estimate she has made of the percentage of a random sample of lone parents whose youngest child was at school and who were receiving income support who would typically flow off benefit in a three month period in current economic circumstances. [14023]

Mr. Keith Bradley

[Pursuant to his reply 3 November 1997, column 86–7.]

The information is not available in the format requested. there are a number of reasons why a lone parent may cease claiming Income Support. These include: re-partnering; receiving an increase in income other than earnings (for example following an award of maintenance); and either starting work or increasing their hours of work.

There were 506,000 Income Support claimants in receipt of a lone parent premium at the end of November 1996 whose youngest child was aged 5 or over. Three months later 46,000 had ceased to fit into this category: around 36,000 had ceased to claim by the end of February 1997 and a further 10,000 remained on benefit but experienced a change in their circumstances.


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

2. Sample size 5 per cent.

3. Continuous claims include those who were no longer a lone parent with a youngest child aged 5 or over in February 1997.


Income Support Quarterly Statistical Enquiries, November 1996 and February 1997.