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Family Incomes

Volume 886: debated on Friday 14 February 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the minimum and maximum, or average percentage of reference earnings, net of tax and national insurance contributions, which an unemployed man with wife and three children, who previously earned the national average wage for manual workers, will receive during the first six months of unemployment in Great Britain and the USA, taking into account income tax rebates in this country and assuming in each case that he has been in the same job at the same wages for one year, and that all the conditions necessary to full entitlement to benefit were fulfilled.

In Great Britain, weekly income while unemployed as a proportion of income from earnings and family allowances, net of tax and national insurance contributions, would be smallest—between 45 and 50 per cent.—in the first week of unemployment, if that week fell early in the tax year so that no tax refund was due, and when only three days' flat-rate unemployment benefit would be payable; and largest—between 95 and 100 per cent.—in a week when earnings-related supplement and a tax refund would both be payable.The average weekly benefit for total unemployment in the United States, including Puerto Rico, in June 1974 was $62·50, with a range by State from $36·83 to $83·37. Average weekly earnings in the United States, excluding Puerto Rico, for manufacturing industry then were $177.As the hon. Member will be aware from my reply of 28th January to his earlier Question—[Vol. 885, c.

95.]—a disproportionate amount of staff time would be required to make comparisons between the two sets of figures on the basis requested. Moreover, such comparisons would be of doubtful validity because it is not possible to make due allowance for all relevant factors such as fluctuating exchange rates, differing costs of living, levels of wages, taxation and social security structures, and social provision generally.