Disregard (One-Parent Families)

Oral Answers to Questions — Social Services – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th May 1976.

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Photo of Mr Raymond Mawby Mr Raymond Mawby , Totnes 12:00 am, 25th May 1976

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he proposes to introduce legislation to raise the supplementary disregard for one-parent families.

Photo of Mr David Ennals Mr David Ennals , Norwich North

I shall introduce the amending legislation tomorrow.

Photo of Mr Raymond Mawby Mr Raymond Mawby , Totnes

Many hon. Members on both sides of the House will be very grateful for that reply, but is not the problem one of lifting one-parent families out of supplementary benefit dependence without introducing a new means-tested benefit? Will the right hon. Gentleman study the possibility of converting income tax allowance into positive tax credits.

Photo of Mr David Ennals Mr David Ennals , Norwich North

I cannot say that I shall now give consideration to a scheme that was widely considered in the House. We are always considering what further we can do. A number of proposals have been put forward in the Finer Report and they are receiving the Government's attention. The House will be glad that the legislation is to be introduced tomorrow.

Photo of Mr John Ovenden Mr John Ovenden , Gravesend

I welcome my right hon. Friend's announcement. However, will he look again at the idea of introducing a supplementary benefit disregard that takes account of the number of children included in one-parent families, rather than a flat rate disregard throughout the whole range.

Photo of Mr David Ennals Mr David Ennals , Norwich North

The trouble with that is that it is extremely complicated to do and it is costly, from the point of view of manpower, to do it. The more disregards one has, as well as the variations of disregard, the more it undermines the principle of supplementary benefit, because if one has too many disregards, clearly that does not help the poorest parents, who are those principally helped by supplementary benefit.

Photo of George Young George Young , Ealing Acton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that raising the disregard to £6 works out to giving an extra 8½p a week to each of the 280,000 families on the supplementary benefit? Is that really the full extent of the Government's support for one-parent families?

Photo of Mr David Ennals Mr David Ennals , Norwich North

No, of course not. The CHIB scheme has already been introduced, and a statement will be made later today concerning child benefit.