Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Lone Parents Ceasing to Receive Benefit

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: The information is not available in the format requested. Such information as is available is in the table. Figures relate to the total number of lone parents, who may be single, divorced/separated or widowed.

Lone Parents Ceasing to Receive Income Support/Family Credit/One Parent Benefit

Financial YearFamily Credit One Parent Benefit Income Support
1988-8939,000126,000--
1989-9087,000141,000--
1990-9191,000115,000--
1991-9290,000124,000--
1992-9392,000130,000--
1993-94124,000128,000281,000
1994-95132,000133,000283,000

Source:

Income Support Statistics Quarterly Enquiries, 1993-1995.

Family Credit 5 per cent. sample of awards.

Quarterly Child Benefit and One Parent Benefit Statistics,

1988-1995.

Notes:

1. All figures have been rounded to the nearest thousand.

2. Figures relate to claimants ceasing to receive benefit in the period shown. It is possible for the same person to appear more than once if they make repeated claims for benefit.

3. Figures for Income Support are not available prior to 1993-94. Prior to 1993 information was collected on an annual 'point in time' basis and did not include details of terminations of awards over the relevant year. Figures for 1993-94 and 1994-95 are derived from 'point in time' figures taken at quarterly enquiries through the year. It is possible for some claimants to be omitted if they started and ceased to receive Income Support entirely in the interval between two quarterly enquiries.

4. Family Credit figures include all awards made during this period. However, figures for 1988-89 may slightly underestimate (by 1 per cent. at most) the true total, as not all cases were recorded on the computer system at that time.

5. Figures for Widowed Mother's Allowance, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit are not available. Statistical information on these benefits is collected on annual 'point in time' bases which do not include details of terminations of awards over the relevant year.


Absent Parents: Maintenance Collection

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to Miss Ann Chant's evidence to the Public Accounts Committee (Q160) that cases in which there is no co-operation with the Child Support Agency "are the ones where probably both parents are on benefit, and therefore there is going to be very little to gain or lose for either party", whether they believe the collection of maintenance from absent parents on income support to be cost effective; and

    What is the average cost per case of collecting maintenance from absent parents on income support.

31 Jan 1996 : Column WA112

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: It is a fundamental principle of the Child Support Act that every parent is responsible for maintaining his or her children wherever they can afford to do so, thus keeping the burden on the general taxpayer to a minimum. The minimum contribution to maintenance, which will increase to £4.80 in April 1996, underpins this responsibility.

The principle is that both parents are responsible for their children, and absent parents should not escape all their financial responsibilities simply because they are on income support. A deduction from benefit will demonstrate an absent parent's liability, and will establish a pattern of contributing to the maintenance of children that will continue when the absent parent commences employment.

The average cost per case of collecting maintenance from absent parents on income support could be established only at disproportionate cost.

Child Support Agency: Report

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the report from the Department of Social Security referred to in paragraph 32 of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee's Report on the Child Support Agency (1995-96 HC Paper 31) on "things that went wrong and lessons to be learned" will be completed and whether it will be published.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: As was explained to the Public Accounts Committee, various studies were underway. The Government will be responding to the Committee's report in due course.

Child Support Agency: Maintenance Assessments

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to paragraphs 3-7 of the Comptroller and Auditor-General's report on the Child Support Agency (PAC 141), what action, if any, they intend to take on interim maintenance assessments which cannot be legally enforced because they have been given incorrect effective dates.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: The Child Support (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 1995, which enable the correction of interim maintenance assessments imposed with incorrect effective dates, came into force on 16 February 1995. The Child Support Agency is using this legislation to correct affected cases.

Child Support

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the evidence to the Public Accounts Committee on the Child Support Agency (1st Report 1995-96 HC Paper 31) (Q.225), whether anyone who gave up his job because payment of maintenance

31 Jan 1996 : Column WA113

    under the Child Support Act 1991 left him unable to afford the fares to work would be held to have given up his job "for no good reason".

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: The administration of the Child Support Agency is a matter for the Chief Executive, Miss Ann Chant. She will write to the noble Lord.

Letter to The Earl Russell from Miss Ann Chant, Chief Executive, Child Support Agency dated 31 January 1996.

I am replying to your recent Parliamentary Question to Her Majesty's Government asking what the effect on benefit entitlement would be if an absent parent claimed to have given up a job because they could not afford their fares to work after paying legally due child maintenance.

There should be no basis for such a claim.

The protected income element of the maintenance formula ensures that there is a cap on the amount of maintenance that an absent parent will be asked to pay. This currently stands at 30 per cent. of net income for regular maintenance and 33 per cent. where an absent parent also has arrears of maintenance to pay.

Moreover, the Child Support Act 1995 made provision for absent parents with high travel to work costs to have this taken into account in their maintenance assessment. In brief, an allowance of

£0.10 is made for every mile over 150 miles travelled weekly. This change was made specifically to address the problems faced by absent parents who incurred high travel costs to and from work.

Nagorny Karabakh Dispute

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the reported starting-up of an unsafe nuclear power station by the Armenian Government is related to the Azerbaijian Government's blockade of Armenia, and what encouragement are Her Majesty's Government giving to the lifting of this blockade.

Lord Chesham: Her Majesty's Government is supporting measures to achieve a peaceful settlement of the Nagorny Karabakh dispute. This would bring to an end the economic blockade imposed by some of Armenia's neighbours which has contributed to the current shortage of fuel in the country. Lack of alternative sources of energy was the reason for the decision to reopen Unit 2 of the Medzamor nuclear power plant.

Caspian Sea: Pollution Control

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether an oil pollution control regime is in place in the Caspian Sea, and if not whether all firms participating in oil exploitation are explicitly committed to the prevention of oil pollution, and in the event of pollution, to the polluter pays principle.

31 Jan 1996 : Column WA114

Lord Chesham: We understand that most, if not all, of the Caspian littoral states have legislation covering environmental pollution and protection. Questions on the pollution control policies of companies involved in oil exploitation should be addressed to the companies concerned.

ODA: Funded Police Training

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What research they have conducted to establish the extent to which British military and police training programmes have a positive influence in encouraging professional standards of conduct and proper respect for human rights in states where the human rights performance of the police and military has been subject to criticisms.

Lord Chesham: Regular monitoring of ODA-funded police projects generally confirms that they are improving the management and skills of the police forces assisted. A full evaluation of such projects is planned for 1996-97. Although there has been no systematic assessment, we have no reason to doubt that British military training programmes have anything other than a positive effect on human right practices and professional standards in other countries.

Turkey: Human Rights

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What initiatives the Chairman-in-Office of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe took during 1995 to persuade the Turkish authorities to comply with their obligations under paragraph 36 of the code of conduct on politico-military aspects of security of the Budapest Declaration of December 1994 in dealing with the Kurdish armed opposition.

Lord Chesham: The OSCE Chairman-in-Office did not, we understand, raise with Turkey her obligation under the code of conduct. The wider issues of Turkey's human rights obligations and the Turkish operation against the Kurds in Iraq have been raised in the OSCE Permanent Council by a number of OSCE states.

Pervomaskoye Crisis: OSCE Initiative

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What initiatives the Chairman-in-Office of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe took during the Pervomaskoye crisis, to persuade the Russian authorities to comply with their obligations under paragraph 36 of the code of conduct on politico-military aspects of security of the Budapest declaration of December 1994.

Lord Chesham: During the Pervomaskoye crisis, the OSCE Chairman-in-Office kept in close touch with the Russian authorities and offered mediation assistance. The OSCE Chairman-in-Office, the UK and other OSCE partners have urged Russia to ensure that its military operations in Chechnya fully conform with the OSCE code of conduct.



   Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page