Skip to main content

One-Parent Families

Volume 934: debated on Thursday 30 June 1977

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if, pursuant to the reply given on 21st June with reference to one-parent families, he will list in the Official Report those proposals of the Finer Report which he regards as impractical.

As my hon. Friend will be aware, the Finer Committee made a large number of recommendations involving both local authorities and other Departments as well as the Department of Health and Social Security. Many of these recommendations have already been implemented. Further progress on others will depend upon the availability of manpower and financial resources, both of which will be severely restricted for the foreseeable future.

But the Government do not consider that the guaranteed maintenance allowance, to which my hon. Friend referred, is a practical proposition because, with the integral arrangements for recovery from liable spouses, it would require several thousand extra civil servants, for its administration and would cost at least £250 million. Moreover, it would involve a complicated form of means-testing and, for the many lone parents receiving supplementary benefit, would have meant simply transferring them from one means-tested benefit to another. However, substantial improvements have been made in existing benefits, such as widowed mothers' allowance and supplementary benefit, as a result of which additional income support for one-parent families since the Government took office adds up to no less than £490 million a year, including the increases due in November next. The question of any further financial provision for one-parent families can only be considered in the context of social security and family support policies in general and in the light of the prevailing financial and manpower position.