Children `pawns for claiming benefits'

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The Independent Online

Children have become pawns in access to benefits and accommodation, the president of the Conservative Family Campaign claimed yesterday in a scathing attack on the "perverse" effect of the tax and benefit system.

Calling for a boost to the tax allowances of the working poor, starting with the married couple's allowance, Julian Brazier said government policy was discriminating against the traditional family. "A benefits system which encourages illegitimacy and the breakdown of marriage cannot be in the long-term interests of a happy nation."

Mr Brazier, MP for Canterbury, made his attack in a pamphlet, Hitting the Target, published by the Conservative 2000 Foundation, the right-wing think tank set up by John Redwood, the unsuccessful Tory leadership challenger. Many of Mr Brazier's views echo those of Mr Redwood, particularly on single parents. "Some mothers are financially better off married to the state than to their children's father," he said.

One of the moral revivalists who have made life difficult for Lord Mackay, the Lord Chancellor, over the divorce and domestic violence legislation, Mr Brazier said marriage and the traditional family had to be actively encouraged as the best hope for the nation's children.

By 1994 there were 1.4 million single parent families, one million of them dependent on income support.

With the Budget less than three weeks away, he argued against a cut in the basic rate of income tax as it would do virtually nothing for the poorer 40 per cent of the population because of benefit withdrawal.

He called for the phasing out of differentials on income support and family credit between couples and single parents, starting with abolition of the lone parent premium. It was disclosed this week that Peter Lilley, Secretary of State for Social Security, is expected to abolish the pounds 5.20 week LPP for all new claimants as part of a pounds 1bn a year package of savings.