New Forest East


Dr Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, with reference to the Child Maintenance Service standard practice of making reassessments when there is a 25 per cent reduction in income, if she will make it her policy to provide financial assistance to low-income, divorced parents on furlough at 80 per cent of their normal income to help them meet their child maintenance payments.  [48245]

[Due for Answer on 2 June.][Answered on 4 June.]

HOLDING ANSWER: The Department for Work and Pensions has indicated that it will not be possible to answer this question within the usual time period. An answer is being prepared and will be provided as soon as it is available.


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Mims Davies): The Government recognises that the income of many separated parents is being impacted by the public health emergency. No one should use this time as an excuse to avoid their child maintenance payments however where parents experience a change in income, we can review their case and check if the amount paid should change. If it does not, they should continue to make payments.

The Government has been clear in its commitment to support those, including both paying and receiving parents, whose income drops as a result of the public health emergency and we have made a number of changes to the welfare system to ensure people are receiving the support they need. These include increasing the standard rate of Universal Credit and working tax credit for this year by around £1000 per year. People who need money urgently continue to be able to access up to a month’s Universal Credit advance upfront by applying online. We are increasing the Local Housing Allowance rates for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants so that it covers the cheapest third of local rents – which is on average £600 in people’s pockets.

Taken together, these measures represent an injection of over £6.5 billion into the welfare system and, along with the other job and business support programmes announced by the Chancellor, represent one of the most comprehensive packages of support introduced by an advanced economy in response to the coronavirus outbreak.