Letter: First priority for all parents should be to look after their children

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Sir: Today's article on lone parent Wendy Dadds is highly misleading. It suggests that there is no incentive for lone parents on income support to go out to work as they lose all their benefit entitlement. This is certainly not the case.

Lone parents still get child benefit and one-parent benefit regardless of how much they earn. Also, a lone parent working less than 16 hours a week can earn pounds 15 without losing income support or any other benefits. Earnings over pounds 15 a week reduce income support pound for pound, but a lone parent would not lose all of it unless their earnings were at least pounds 15 more than their income support.

Low earnings can be topped up with family credit for parents working more than 16 hours a week. The average family credit payment is pounds 45 a week. Moreover, family credit still automatically entitles families to free prescriptions and dental care. On top of this, housing benefit can still be paid depending on the amount of rent and the total family income, including family credit. Council tax benefit may also be paid. All in all, most lone parents are better off with a job, especially with in- work benefits, than at home on income support.

Yours faithfully,


Under Secretary of State

for Social Security

Department of Social Security

London, SW1

4 August