Memorandum submitted by One Parent Families
Scotland (CB 7)
1. Taxation of Child Benefit
OPFS disagrees in principle with the taxation
of Child Benefit. It should be an acknowledgement of state responsibility
to support all parents.
2. Higher rates for children under five or tiered
rates at all levels?
Lone parents with children under 5 will incur
higher childcare costs if they are working and not all families
will be eligible for help under the Working Families Tax Credit.
If they are not working they are likely to be dependent on Income
Support. Evidence from "Small Fortunes, Spending on children,
childhood poverty and parental sacrifice" (Middleton,
Ashworth & Braithwaite, Joseph Rowntree Foundation 1997)
shows that parents with children under five spend 43 per cent
more on them than is covered by Income Support rates. To alleviate
childhood poverty, parents of children under five need higher
Child Benefit which is disregarded for Income Support.
3. Higher payments for the first child?
We support the principle of higher payment for
the first child. This is particularly beneficial for lone parent
families, fifty per cent of which have only one child.
4. Relationship between CB and IS allowances?
Evidence from Canada suggests that an integrated
child benefit system with much higher levels of child benefit
which is withdrawn gradually as income rises would be more effective
in promoting social inclusion, alleviating poverty and reducing
barriers to work. (Joseph Rowntree Foundation Research Findings.
Why special tax credits for low income families are being abandoned
in Canada, January 1998).
In considering any changes, the need for a simpler
and better integrated welfare benefits system should be paramount.
5. Role in support for 16-19-year-olds?
Any move to remove CB from this age group should
take into account the possible reduction in the amount of support
that lone parents would be able to give to children in continuing
education if the parent's entitlement to IS/FC is removed.
6. Changing family structures?
At present the receipt of CB determines eligibility
for means tested benefits and child maintenance. Because CB cannot
be split between two parents, there is no mechanism for taking
shared care situations into account (in which the non-residential
parent undertakes up to half the care of the child). Although
splitting of CB in proportion to the amount of caring time might
be administratively difficult, it could act as encouragement for
more fathers to take a significant role after separation.
7. Higher rates of CB?
Lone parents face significantly higher costs
than two-parent families, because of childcare costs, the need
for similar sized accommodation and because of costs relating
to one parent trying to cover the work of two. We would therefore
support higher rates of CB for one-parent families, with a disregard
on Income Support and also increased CB rates for lone parents
in further/higher education, who are often not eligible for IS.
8. International comparisons?
10 September 1998