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One-Parent Families

Volume 959: debated on Friday 1 December 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many one-parent families are on supplementary benefits.

A total of 326,000 one-parent families were receiving supplementary benefit in November 1977.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) how many one-parent families there are in the United Kingdom;(2) of the total number of one-parent families how many are widows, widowers, divorcees, separated, or single girls who have never married.

I will let my hon. Friend have a reply as soon as possible.

Age of head
Under2121–2526–50Over 50All
Estimated number of families2,7006,40030,5001,60041,200

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the infant mortality rate among one-parent families compared with the remainder of the population.

Information is not available for one-parent families as such. However, there is information about the mortality of legitimate and illegitimate children. Deaths of children under one year of age per 1,000 live births in England and Wales in 1977 were 13·2 for legitimate children and 19·1 for illegitimate children.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services, what savings (a) in staff numbers and (b) in staff costs would be achieved if the recovery and collection of maintenance from husbands, ex-husbands and other close relatives of one-parent families on supplementary benefit were ended.

pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 30th November 1978; Vol. 959, c. 293], gave the following information:Of an estimated total of 1,800 staff employed by my Department on work relating to the liability of relatives the number actually engaged on recovery of maintenance cannot be identified.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services in how many of the total number of one-parent families the sole wage earner is in the age bracket 16–18 years, 19–21 years, 22–25 years, 26–30 years, 30 –40 years, and over 40 years, respectively.

I regret that the only available information of this kind is for those one-parent families who receive family income supplement (FIS). The 40,000 or so families on FIS are not necessarily typical of the very much greater number of one-parent families at work. Moreover, the information is not available for the precise age-bands stipulated by my hon. Friend. I have, however, given the FIS estimates in the following table in the hope that they will be of some assistance to my hon. Friend.The current collection arrangements by which maintenance payments are diverted to the Department are designed both to assure claimants of a regular income and to eliminate the administrative costs involved in dealing with the additional claims for supplementary benefit which would otherwise arise in the many cases where the liable relative defaults. To end these arrangements would, in my view, penalise claimants and increase staff numbers.