On 22nd February 2017, Lord McKenzie of Luton asked Her Majesty’s Government “what estimate they have made of the extent to which the new lower benefit cap will encourage people into work or to move into smaller homes”. The Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, asked a follow up question.
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, according to the Government’s own impact assessment nearly a quarter of a million children are affected by the reduced benefit cap, more than two and a half times the number of affected adults. This includes many preschool children in lone-parent families at greater risk of poverty. Given that the prime aim here is to encourage more people into work, will the Minister consider exempting single parents with young children, who would not otherwise be expected to work under the current benefit rules and who rely on familiar social networks and services?
Lord Henley: My Lords, I accept one part of the right reverend Prelate’s question: it is valuable for all concerned, particularly children, to live in households where all those who are likely to earn are in full-time employment. It is work that is the benefit to children. I can assure the right reverend Prelate that the number of children living in workless households is now at a record low. We have seen falls there; the number is down by more than 80,000 in the past year and well over half a million since 2010. We need to wait to see the evaluation of our further changes to the benefit cap before we make any further promises of the sort that the right reverend Prelate is seeking from me.