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Volume 685: debated on Wednesday 11 October 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What assessment they have made of the research undertaken by Warwick University regarding the spending of child benefit on alcohol; and whether they will take steps to discourage further such misuses of the system. [HL7451]

The Government are aware of the report, entitled Who Benefits from Child Benefit, which concludes that its findings are,

“consistent with the view that parents are altruistic towards their children”.

The report suggests that the relationship between child benefit and adult goods arises because adults would cut back on the consumption of adult goods when there are falls in child benefit, thereby protecting their children from changes in family income.

Recent research by Gregg, Waldfogel and Washbrook1 has also looked at the effect of policy reforms to financial support. If finds that as incomes of low income families have risen,

“there is clear evidence of how spending is focused on child-related goods such as children's clothing, toys and books”.

Therefore the Government will continue to base financial support for families on the basis of progressive universalism, with support for all families and more support for those that need it most.

1 That's the way the money goes, in A More Equal Society?, Hills and Stewart (eds) 2005.