HC Deb 16 January 2003 vol 397 cc742-3W
Mrs. Calton

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what discussions he has had with other Ministers to ensure that no Government strategy impacts adversely on child poverty. [88542]

Malcolm Wicks

The Government is committed to building a fairer and more inclusive society in which everyone can contribute to, and share in, rising national prosperity. 'Opportunity for all—(the) fourth annual report' is the latest in a series that comprehensively describes the Government's strategy and progress in tackling poverty and social exclusion.

The Government has set itself an ambitious target to eradicate child poverty within a generation.

Ministers regularly meet with ministerial colleagues to discuss issues related to the alleviation of child poverty. They attend the Ministerial Group on Children and Young People (MISC9) and the Joint Ministerial Committee on Poverty, both of which address child poverty issues.

Mr. Cousins

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what differences there are in the treatment of(a) endowment mortgage savings and (b) ISA mortgage savings in assessing savings in each relevant means tested benefit, including council tax benefit with savings thresholds and disregards; and whether this issue is under review. [89104]

Malcolm Wicks

[holding answer 9 January 2003]: Unlike an ISA mortgage savings scheme, an endowment mortgage also provides life insurance cover. It is a lon-standing principle that the surrender value of any life insurance policy should be disregarded when determining entitlement to the income- related benefits, including Council Tax Benefit. This is because the intended beneficiaries of life insurance policies, are not the policy-holders themselves, but any dependants they may have at the time of their death. Because a life insurance policy is an integral part of an endowment mortgage, the overall surrender value is disregarded in the same way. However, if a life insurance policy is surrendered early or linked endowment mortgage savings are redeemed, any resulting capital is taken into account in the normal way.

Because ISA mortgage savings schemes do not provide life insurance cover any savings held are taken into account as capital from the outset when determining entitlement to the income-related benefits, including Council Tax Benefit.

We keep all our policies under review. However, we have no plans to change the present rules in this area.