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Child Benefit

Volume 13: debated on Thursday 26 November 1981

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he expects to publish regulations for the new systems of payment of child benefit.

Regulations for paying child benefit four-weekly will be published early in December. It will be several months before regulations providing the child benefit to be paid into a bank or building society accounts are published. These have yet to be referred to the social security advisory committee and are not needed yet, as the facility will not be available until autumn 1982.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will list the variations available for the payment of child benefit following implementation of the proposals announced on 12 May, Official Report, c. 617–27, which can be used by different family categories.

The two main proposals announced on 12 May were that, with certain exceptions, child benefit would be paid four-weekly, and that an additional facility would be provided whereby those mothers who so wished could have their child benefit paid directly into a bank or building society account. We are starting to implement the first of these proposals from 15 March 1982. Child benefit will then be available as follows:1.

Lone parents Family in receipt of family income supplement or supplementary benefit

Weekly payment by order book at post office or four-weekly payment in arrears by order book at post office.

2. Other Families

Four-weekly payment in arrears by order book at post office or weekly payment by order book at post office if hardship is experienced from four-weekly payment.

3. Mothers whose entitlement arises before 15 March 1982

As for "other families" but they have the right to opt for weekly payment. They have been sent option cards explaining this in renewal order books issued between now and March 1982. They will have the duration of that order book plus a further six months in which to make the choice.

Payment four-weekly in arrears into bank or building society accounts will become available as an additional method of payment to all the family categories described above from autumn 1982.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what representations he has had against the proposals to pay new recipients of child benefit at four-weekly intervals in arrears; and whether, in view of the hardship likely to be caused, he will withdraw the proposal.

Some 25 representations have been received objecting that weekly payment of child benefit will not be available to all new beneficiaries. Mothers whose entitlement to child benefit arises before 15 March 1982 will be able to opt to continue with weekly payment. In addition, lone parents, families in receipt of supplementary benefit or family income supplement, and people who experience hardship as a result of four-weekly payment will all be able to obtain payment weekly. This is to meet the hardship problems, and I see no reason, therefore, to withdraw the proposal to make four-weekly payment the norm for most new beneficiaries.