Lone-parent hostel plan condemned

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PLANS to put single mothers into hostels and to force their parents to pay towards their upkeep were condemned yesterday as a return to Victorian morality, writes Rosie Waterhouse.

Conservative sources appeared to be floating the ideas to curb spending on lone parents as part of a drive to cut social security spending of pounds 80bn this year.

Peter Lilley, the Secretary of State for Social Security, is reported to be seriously considering proposals to encourage councils to build hostels for young single mothers, force them to provide a court order to prove they have been thrown out of their parents' home and to compel their parents to contribute towards their cost of living.

Anti-poverty campaigners claim Mr Lilley's assumption is not backed by the facts: that of 895,000 single parents on income support in 1991 only 45,000, or 5 per cent, were between 16 and 19. Sally Witcher, director of the Child Poverty Action Group, said: 'The idea of hostels for lone parents smacks of Victorian attitudes and their institutions for fallen women.'