asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will seek powers to help women separated from their husbands to obtain the maintenance granted to them by court order, but which remains unpaid or in arrears.
As my hon. Friend knows, the Supplementary Benefits Commission already has powers in relation to women beneficiaries under that scheme. My right hon. Friend has at present no plans to extend those powers.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what steps he will take to expedite the help available for women whose husbands fail to comply with a court order for maintenance.
Women who are separated from their husbands and who are not in full-time work are entitled to claim supplementary benefit if their means are inadequate because their husbands do not comply with court orders for maintenance or for other reasons. There should be no delay in the payment of benefit but if my hon. Friend has a particular case in mind I shall be pleased to look into it.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what sum of money was paid out by his Department between September, 1970, and September, 1971, to women separated from their husbands, following the failure of these husbands to comply with a court order for maintenance.
I regret that this information is not available as the only social security benefit at present paid in these circumstances is supplementary benefit and the reasons for payment of this are not analysed. My hon. Friend may, however, wish to know that from the latest information available, it is estimated that in 1970 about £53 million was paid to about 129,000 separated wives, where it was necessary to pursue the question of liability to maintain. This sum was paid after taking into account about £4¾ million in maintenance payments received direct by the wives themselves.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many applicants are in receipt of supplementary benefit due to the non-payment of maintenance orders.
I regret that it is not possible to make a reliable estimate on the information available, as the reasons for payment of supplementary benefit are not analysed.