Bishop of Durham asks Government about impact on families of two-child limit on tax credits

On 25th January 2018 the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, received written answers to three questions about the impact on families of the two-child limit on tax credits:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many families have had their tax credits reduced by the two -child limit in each  month since the introduction of the limit in April 2017; how many of those families had one or more parents in work; how many families were (1) lone parent families or (2) two -parent families; and what was the number of children per family involved.

Lord Bates: The government considers the impact of policies on different groups during their development. During the passage of the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 we published an Impact Assessment for the policy of limiting support in tax credits and Universal Credit. The impact assessment shows the number of Child Tax Credit or Universal Credit claimants who were expected to be affected by the policy over the next five years.
This does not include a number of groups who have received an exception to the policy of limiting support: statistics on these exceptions will be published in due course.

The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many families with three or more children have been able to claim the Child Tax Credit amount for a third or subsequent child under the “special circumstances” exemption rules that apply to the two-child limit, in each month since the introduction of the limit in April 2017; and what reasons were provided for those exemptions.

Lord Bates: Families on benefits should have to make the same financial decisions as families supporting themselves solely through work. However, in recognition that some claimants are not able to make choices about the number of children in their family the government has provided exceptions in certain cases. Following debate in parliament and a public consultation, the government introduced regulations that allow exceptions to apply in
cases where the third or subsequent children are:
•part of a multiple birth, although it does not cover one child in that birth on the grounds that the parents would have expected the pregnancy to have resulted in at least one birth;
• children who are adopted when they would otherwise be in Local Authority care;
• in non-parental caring arrangements, including formal arrangements (e.g. Child Arrangement Orders, Special Guardianship Orders, certain Scottish Kinship Care Orders etc) and informal arrangements where the child is living long terms with friends or family and would otherwise be at risk of entering the care system;
• born as a result of non-consensual conception (including cases of rape or coercion and control).
 Statistics relating to exceptions to the limit on support to two children in Child Tax Credit will be published once there are sufficient cases to enable robust analysis and the data has been quality assured.

The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to monitor the impact of the two-child limit for Child Tax Credits on the well-being of children in large families affected by the policy, since it was introduced in April 2017.
Lord Bates: The government is committed to supporting families. We are helping families retain more of what they earn by raising the personal allowance, successive increases mean that a basic rate tax payer will be £1,075 better off in 2018 -19 than in 2010-11.  Also, to help working parents we have doubled free childcare available for 3 and 4 year olds to 30 hours a week, saving in total around £5,000 a year per child, and we are introducing Tax Free Childcare, providing support of up to £2000 per year for each child. However, there is more to do and the government is committed to delivering a country that works for everyone. Last April, the government published its “Improving Lives: Helping Workless Families” strategy. This focused on measures that tackle the root causes of poverty and improve children’s welfare, in particular parental worklessness and educational
attainment. Data on each of the areas targeted by the Strategy is published annually. We keep all our policies under review, including the policy of limiting support in Child Tax Credits.
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