Oral Answers to Questions — Child Benefit

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2nd April 2001.

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Photo of Andrew Miller Andrew Miller Labour, Ellesmere Port and Neston 12:00 am, 2nd April 2001

If he will make a statement on take-up of child benefit since 1997. [154874]

Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Social Security)

Child benefit is paid to more than 7 million families: virtually all families with children receive it. Since 1997, we have increased the rate of child benefit for the first child by 26 per cent. in real terms—to £15 a week. From next week, this will increase again to £15.50 and to £10.35 for all other children.

Photo of Andrew Miller Andrew Miller Labour, Ellesmere Port and Neston

For the 10,500 families in Ellesmere Port and Neston who gain from child benefit, that sum represents an extra expenditure over and above inflation of more than £1.5 million since 1997. It is truly welcome. However, will my hon. Friend ensure that, when future programmes in other parts of the Department's work are considered, special attention is given to those areas of my constituency where there is still child poverty?

Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Social Security)

It is one of the Government's aims to end child poverty within 20 years, and more than 1 million children will be lifted out of poverty in this Parliament. Therefore, we are on track to achieve our aim. The Tories tripled child poverty during their time in office, and I contrast our record on child benefit and the increase of 26 per cent. with the three-year freeze in child benefit between 1988 and 1990 that was the Tory legacy.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

What proportion of wealthy households do not claim child benefit?

Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Social Security)

Child benefit claim rates are almost 100 per cent.