HC Deb 12 January 1988 vol 125 cc131-2
5. Mr. Gerald Bowden

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what recognition the new system of income-related benefits will give to the needs of families on low incomes.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security (Mr. Michael Portillo)

Lower-paid working families will receive more help through family credit, which we expect to be received by over twice the number presently receiving family income supplement, at an extra cost of around £200 million; and we shall be spending around £100 million extra on families in income support, which replaces supplementary benefit.

Mr. Bowden

I am reassured by my hon. Friend's reply and I applaud the principle that the greatest help should be given to those in greatest need. Can he give actual figures of the families who will be receiving family credit in future, and can he say how those who are in need and are entitled to claim will be informed and encouraged to claim that entitlement?

Mr. Portillo

The total number of families should be about 470,000 compared with 200.000 who are receiving FIS today. We will launch a promotional campaign, on which we are spending £3 million.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Would the £50 or £60 that a child has saved in a building society out of weekly pocket money be taken into account for the assessment of supplementary benefit for the parents?

Mr. Portillo

The new rules refer to the resources of adults and exclude them from income support at £6,000, as opposed to £3,000 at present.

Mr. Roger King

Does my hon. Friend agree that we will be spending more on low-income families as a result of our social security reviews than has been the case until recently, and more than we would be spending if benefits such as child benefit had been index related?

Mr. Portillo

Yes. Even allowing for the changes in housing benefit, the extra money going to families is of the order of £200 million. That is nearly double the amo0unt that would be required to uprate child benefits.

Mrs. Margaret Ewing

Is the Minister aware that, under proposed changes in legislation, an unemployed head of the household who decides to undertake full-time education to increase his employment opportunities will lose out on benefits, including housing benefit, which will be counter-productive to any scheme to encourage people to undertake training?

Mr. Portillo

The provision for education is a separate matter from income support, which is there for those who are available for work. The two are different maintenance systems.