Skip to main content

Social Security Benefits: Lone Parents

Volume 493: debated on Monday 1 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions what recent assessment he has made of the effect on single parent households of housing and council tax benefit rules that result in a reduction of benefit when (a) eligibility for tax credits is established and (b) a student maintenance grant is payable; and if he will make a statement. (275516)

In assessing entitlement to housing benefit and council tax benefit, regard is had to all forms of income. This includes taking into account in full any working tax credit and child tax credit in payment.

Where an additional element of working tax credit is paid in respect of a person working more than 30 hours a week, a disregard of an equal amount is applied to their earnings. In addition, an earnings disregard can be applied to certain groups of people where the claimant or his partner is working for 16 hours or more. This is £25 for single parents.

A deduction equal to the full value of relevant child care charges, or the maximum deduction if lower, can also be made. The maximum weekly deductions are £175 for one child and £300 for two or more children.

Where a single parent student is eligible for a maintenance grant, these grants can be used by the student for any purpose, including daily living expenses. Where a student does not have a student loan and is not treated as having one, a standard amount towards the costs of books and equipment is deducted from the student’s annual grant income. From the start of the 2008-09 academic year, this amount is £380 for books and equipment and £295 for travel. Any part of the grant paid for child care is disregarded. Additionally, if a student was to receive grants paid specifically for any non-maintenance elements, such as books and travel costs, these are also completely disregarded.

We are satisfied that the above arrangements are working as intended and currently have no plans to change them. However, as with all aspects of the benefits system, they are subject to regular review.