Child Benefit

Oral Answers to Questions — Social Services – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13th November 1979.

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Photo of Mr Frank Hooley Mr Frank Hooley , Sheffield, Heeley 12:00 am, 13th November 1979

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what was the value per week of family allowance or child benefit for a family with three children of school age in October 1977, October 1978 and October 1979 at constant 1977 prices.

Photo of Mrs Lynda Chalker Mrs Lynda Chalker , Wallasey

The value is: October 1977, £4, October 1978, £6·40, September 1979, which is the latest date for which the retail price index is available, £9·60.

Photo of Mr Frank Hooley Mr Frank Hooley , Sheffield, Heeley

Is the Minister aware that this financial year will be the first time since the war that the majority of children have derived no financial benefit from increased tax allowances and direct payment in the form of child benefit? In the light of the 17½ per cent. rate of inflation, which is still rising rapidly, that is disgraceful.

Photo of Mrs Lynda Chalker Mrs Lynda Chalker , Wallasey

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman has forgotten that from April this year child benefit increased by £1. Yesterday child benefit was increased by a further 50p for the first child in one-parent families and the supplementary benefit child dependency allowance was also substantially raised.

Photo of Mr Robert McCrindle Mr Robert McCrindle , Brentwood and Ongar

Am I correct in thinking that, had my hon. Friend answered that question in regard to children of one-parent families, the figures would have proved still better for 1979? Is not that a pointer to the fact that the Government have to be more selective in the distribution of child benefit, particularly where overall resources remain restricted?

Photo of Mrs Lynda Chalker Mrs Lynda Chalker , Wallasey

My hon. Friend is right. Efforts to help one-parent families over the past years have been given prominence, and that is particularly so this year. There are other problems for one-parent families which are not purely financial and there is still much to be done in those areas.

Photo of Mr Stan Orme Mr Stan Orme , Salford West

Does the hon. Lady agree that her Government cancelled a 50p increase which the Labour Government intended to pay this November? Further, will she acknowledge that the £4 child benefit in April next year will be worth only £3·20? When will her right hon. Friend announce an increase to back up the Conservative Government's alleged commitment to child benefit?

Photo of Mrs Lynda Chalker Mrs Lynda Chalker , Wallasey

The right hon. Gentleman has totally missed the point. There was no provision in the previous Government's estimates for an overall 50p increase in child benefit. We shall review the uprating of child benefit as required to do and my right hon. Friend will make an announcement when he is ready.

Photo of Peter Bottomley Peter Bottomley , Greenwich Woolwich West

Does my hon. Friend recognise the importance of increasing child benefit as a substitution for the tax allowances that would have been increased had child benefit not been introduced?

Photo of Mrs Lynda Chalker Mrs Lynda Chalker , Wallasey

Yes, we certainly recognise that.