§ 18. Mr. Ovenden
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is his latest estimate of the number of one-parent families in receipt of supplementary benefit.
§ 30. Mr. Cyril Smith
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many recommendations of the Finer Committee have now been implemented in full; how many have been rejected; and what are the prospects of the remainder being implemented.
§ Mr. Orme
The Finer Committee's recommendations involve both local auth-468W orities and a number of Government Departments. The following information refers to those recommendations for which my Department is responsible.
19 recommendations have been implemented in full, and one recommendation has been implemented in part.
The following proposals involving 80 recommendations in all have been rejected: the proposal that a system of administrative orders should be operated by the Supplementary Benefits Commission for the recovery of maintenance due to women receiving supplementary benefit; the proposal for the guaranteed maintenance allowance; the proposal that lone parents should be entitled to a special addition to the supplementary benefits scale rates; the proposal that when the claimant so requests the Department should arrange to pay the rent direct to the landlord as a matter of course; however, the Department has accepted that rent should be paid direct more readily when the householder is receiving supplementary benefit and is experiencing difficulty in paying the rent; the proposal about the application of the cohabitation rule, but the Supplementary Benefits Commission had regard to this in its own proposals for operating the rule.
Of the remaining recommendations, 35 relate to the personal social services and are generally in line with the Government's own views. They are mainly for implementation by local authorities and voluntary bodies. Much is already being done by them, but further progress will depend upon the availability of manpower and financial resources, both of which will be severely restricted for the foreseeable future. Likewise developments on the six recommendations on other miscellaneous matters for which my right hon. Friend and I are responsible and which have neither been implemented nor rejected will continue to be governed for some time to come by limitations on resources. Meanwhile the Government have acted to safeguard the living standards of all members of the community, including lone-parents with low incomes through regular uprating of social security benefits. The total level of benefits, supplementary benefits, widowed mother's allowance and others, being paid to one-parent families is now running at £650 million a year. Of this amount, £380 million has been added by 469W measures taken by this Government since we took office three years ago.
§ 32. Mr. Pardoe
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if, in view of the Government's rejection of a guaranteed maintenance allowance for lone parents, he will publish a Green Paper on alternative methods of providing family support for lone parents.
§ 39. Mr. Andrew F. Bennett
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement about the number of hours single parents have to work in order to qualify for family income supplement.
§ Mr. Orme
As my hon. Friend will know from our correspondence on this subject, the Government are in sympathy with the proposal that the hours of work rule should be reduced from 30 to 24 hours per week for lone parents claiming family income supplement and this will be considered when additional resources become available.
§ 51. Mr. Geraint Howells
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many lone parents transferred from supplementary benefit to family income supplement in 1974, 1975 and 1976; and if he will give for each year the average delay between the cessation of supplementary benefit and the payment of family income supplement.
§ Mr. Deakins
Information of this kind is not collected because it is not required for the determination of claims for family income supplement (FIS). In general, however, supplementary benefit may be paid, without recovery, for up to the first 15 days of full-time work; and, if a claim for FIS has been made on taking up work, FIS should normally be in payment, from the date of claim, by the end of the third week of employment.
§ 59. Mr. Stephen Ross
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services why in the 83 pages of the document "Priorities for Health and Personal Social Services 470W in England" there is no mention at all of one-parent families or their children.
§ Mr. Deakins
They are not singled out for mention because their needs are met through general service provision; services are not specially provided for them alone. I think this is right because, as the Committee on One-Parent Families said—paragraph 8.76 of the Committee's Report—Cmnd 5629—it is not in the interests of one-parent families to establish special services to cater for their needs.
§ 70. Mr. Hooson
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what proposals, if any, his Department has to ensure that a lone parent with a dependent child over 18 years of age who is unable to claim child benefit will not be worse off from lost tax allowances and benefit after the child benefit scheme begins in April.
§ Mr. Orme
Child benefit and the increase for one-parent families are payable for children up to the age of 19 years if they are in full time education, although as announced by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 16th November—[Vol. 919, c.501–6]—those on advanced courses will be excluded from October. He also explained then that adjustments would be made in the parental contribution scales for student grants to take account of the reduction in child tax allowances.