asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what would be the cost of introducing increased rates of child benefit for second and subsequent children, on the German model, paying £4 weekly for first children, £8 for second children, and for first children in one-parent families, and £16 weekly for each third and subsequent child.
The additional gross cost would be £2·1 billion. There would be savings on supplementary benefit and in child dependency additions to other benefits, but these cannot be estimated without disproportionate cost.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many parents he estimates are still without new child benefit books to which they are entitled and which have been delayed owing to various complications within his Department.
It is not possible to make an estimate of this kind. After an exceptionally difficult period during the summer, the child benefit centre has made a sustained recorvery so that in most work areas, the position is approaching normal. However, delays continue to occur in some instances, particularly where there are complicated changes of circumstances. But improvements can be expected during the coming months, provided that there is no further industrial action.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he is satisfied that those who are entitled to child benefit and who are without the necessary books to establish their claims are receiving payments under emergency arrangements, where their need is a crucial one.
Local offices are operating standard procedures for ending emergency payments of benefits in cases of hardship. If my hon. Friend knows of any particular case where payment has been refused, I should be glad to make inquiries.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many people in the Leamington, Kenilworth and Warwick district are waiting for child benefit books which should have been supplied to them within the past few weeks or months.
I regret that this information is not available.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how long the go-slow by some employees in his Department has now continued, with the result that many new child benefit books have not been properly distributed; and when he expects the system will return to normal.
The ban on voluntary overtime at the child benefit centre has been in operation since June 1979, apart, from one week at the end of August. At present there is nothing to indicate when the ban will be lifted. The absence of overtime has not affected the programme for renewing and distributing order books, although it has caused delays in cases where there have been changes of circumstances.