§ Miss Richardson
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will list by number each recommendation of the Finer committee, stating the Government Department or local authority which has responsibility for it and stating whether the recommendation is (a) implemented, (b) accepted in principle but not implemented, (c) under consideration, (d) rejected; and what is his policy on those recommendations of the Finer report which have been rejected or are not yet implemented.
§ Mr McNamara
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will announce on 4 July, the fifth anniversary of the publication of the Finer committee report, those of the 230 recommendations of the committee that have yet to be implemented indicating those which it is his intention to implement in the current Session.95W
§ Mr. Prentice,
pursuant to his replies [Official Report, 2 July 1979 and 4 July 1979], gave the following answer:
The report of the Finer committee on one-parent families was published on 2 July, not 4 July 1974. The committee made 230 detailed recommendations involving voluntary and other bodies, as well as local government and 10 central Government Departments. The information below relates to those recommendations, numbered as in page 492 and 519 of the Finer report, which touched on the work of the Department of Health and Social Security—DHSS—and of the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys—OPCS.
Included under this broad heading are some recommendations on which steps have been taken but which may not be fully implemented. Many are wholly or partly the concern of local authorities, health authorities or voluntary bodies. Further progress will depend on the availability of resources and the priorities of the statutory authorities and voluntarly bodies concerned.
Recommendation numbers 5(in part) 55 56 57 93 119 121 122 123 (in part) 124 (in part) 125 126 133 157 159 160 161 163 165 170 174 175 177 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203
204 205 206 207 209 210 212 213 221 222 223 224 226 227 228 229 230
(b) ACCEPTED IN PRINCIPLE BUT NOT IMPLEMENTED
(c) UNDER CONSIDERATION
120. The question of reducing the qualifying period for the long-term scale rate of supplementary benefit for all eligible beneficiaries, including families with children, was discussed in paragraph 5.42 of the report of the review of the supplementary benefits scheme. The Government are considering the report in the light of public and other comment.
127. The Government have sympathy with the recommendation that maternity grant should be made a non-contributory benefit, but there are no immediate plans for change. It is still, unfortunately, a question of resources and priorities.
208. The assessment of charges for day care, which this recommendation proposed should be rationalised on a national basis, is the responsibility of individual local authorities in the light of local circumstances and parents' means. A joint DHSS/local authority working group is currently reviewing personal social services charging policies, including those for the day care of pre-school children.
3. The Government have no plans to implement this recommendation which was that the criminal offence of persistent refusal or neglect to maintain a person for whom there is a liability under what is now the Supplementary Benefit Act 1976 should be abolished.
4 to 8, 10 to 25, but see notes below. These recommendations proposed that the Supplementary Benefits Commission should become responsible for recovering maintenance, through a system of administrative orders, in respect of lone mothers receiving supplementary benefit. The Labour Government rejected this system because it would have been costly in civil service manpower without a matching saving of staff in the courts and without any financial benefit to the mothers concerned. The Government have no plans to reconsider these recommendations.
Part of recommendation 5 was that the Supplementary Benefits Commission should no 97W longer encourage a woman to take maintenance proceedings of her own against a liable relative and this has been accepted and implemented.
The arrangements about liability of relatives form one of the subjects to be examined in the second stage of the review of the supplementary benefits scheme being conducted by a team of officials and it may be that their findings will be relevant to some of the recommendations.
64 to 92 and 94 to 117. The Government have no plans for reviving the "guaranteed maintenance allowance", which was immediately rejected by the Labour Government and subsequently abandoned as an aim by such bodies as the National Council for One-Parent Families.
118. The committee recommended that lone parents on supplementary benefit should be entitled to a special addition of £1.50 a week in terms of 1972–73 benefit rates—present-day equivalent about £3.50—above their normal supplementary benefit requirements. The committee recognised, however, that the extra expenses of one-parent families are difficult to quantify and that the need for them varies from household to household according to circumstances and aptitudes. The Supplementary Benefits Commission has discretionary powers to make additional weekly payments or single lump sum payments where there are special expenses and such payments are frequently made to met the needs of one-parent families. The Government share the view of the previous Administration that, since it has not been shown that all one-parent families have measurably greater needs than other families receiving supplementary benefit, their special individual needs should continue to be met by the Commission's use of its discretionary powers.
123, 124—in part. These recommendations were considered and largely accepted by the Supplementary Benefits Commission in an extensive review of the rule about couples living together as husband and wife. However, the Commission did not accept that where benefit was withdrawn on the ground that a couple were living together payment of benefit should continue pending an appeal hearing. Nor did it accept that payments in respect of another man's children should invariably continue for three months.
158. The Supplementary Benefits Commission has no plans to extend the present arrangements for payment of rent direct to the landlord.
The question of the Supplementary Benefits Commission meeting mortgage capital payments has been explored as recommended by the Finer report, but the Government do not consider that means-tested benefits should be used to help people to acquire capital assets.
My right hon. Friend and I have no responsibility for the remaining recommendations, which touch on the work of the following Departments.
Home Office 1 2 41
52 53 225
Lord Chancellor's Department 26–40 42–51 134–135 137 141
Department of Education and Science 131 183 184 211 214–220
Department of the Environment 9 132 133 (in part) 136 138–140 142–156 162 164 166–169 172–173 176
Department of Employment 178–182 185–187
Board of Inland Revenue 128–130
Scottish Office 54 59–63
Central Statistical Office 58