Bishop of Portsmouth asks Government about child poverty, two-child limit and benefit support

On 7th April 2017 the Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, received three written answers from Government about levels of child poverty, the two-child limit and benefit support:

The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their estimate of the impact of the recent increase in inflation on the number of children in poverty; and what plans they have for protecting low income families against the rising cost of basic essentials.

Lord Henley: Impacts of the latest increase in inflation on families with children have not been estimated. However the Department’s latest Households Below Average Income statistics to 2016 published on 16th March 2017 does show how the number of children in low income households has changed with reference to inflation (the measure is called absolute low income).

Since 2010, there has been a decrease of 200,000 children before housing costs (BHC) in absolute low income. After housing costs (AHC) had been taken into account, there were 100,000 fewer children in absolute low income since 2010.

In terms of proportions, there have also been reductions in the rates of absolute low income on both bases – BHC down by 2 percentage points, and AHC down by 1 percentage point since 2010.


The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to ensure that potential claimants are aware of the introduction of the two-child limit on Child Tax Credit and the child element of Universal Credit. [HL6398]
Baroness Neville-Rolfe: Claimants were alerted to the policy changes at the time they were announced by high level messaging on the GOV.UK website in 2015. Tax credits claimants were informed about the upcoming policy change in a letter that was sent with their renewals notices between April and June 2016. A follow up flyer will go out in all new claims packs and renewals packs from April 2017.

In August 2016 high level amendments were made to the GOV.UK website’s information about Child Tax Credit to advise potential claimants about these changes. Further details were published as part of a consultation in October 2016 and in response to the consultation in January 2017.

HM Revenue and Customs and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have also worked with representative bodies and stakeholders who will be able to advise claimants about the changes. All tax credits products (for example, award notices, leaflets, and supporting notes) have been updated with a high level message outlining the new policy. DWP will offer support to claimants through Jobcentres by trained staff as needed.


The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many families with three or more children born before April 2017 they project will be affected by the introduction of the two-child limit on Universal Credit. [HL6397]

Lord Henley: The information requested is not available.