On 30th April Baroness Lister of Buttersett asked Her Majesty’s Government “what assessment they have made of the impact of the benefit cap on child and family wellbeing since that cap was lowered in 2016-17.'” The Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Revd Christopher Foster, asked a follow-up question:
The Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, welfare reform was predicated on the principle that work should pay, but that principle is being undermined, not least by the two-child limit. In future, a family with three or more children seeking to avoid the cap by moving into work will find themselves subject to the two-child limit instead. They could end up losing out by going to work. What assessment have the Government made of the impact of this perverse incentive?
Baroness Buscombe: My Lords, I would not call it a perverse incentive. Our reforms of support for children make sure that people on benefits and those supporting themselves solely through work have the same choices, including whether or not they can afford to have another child. Our policy is about fairness and incentivising work. Of course, child tax credits were not available before 2003, and, no matter how many children someone might have, they continue to be paid child benefit for each and every child.
We welcome last week’s decision by the High Court in relation to kinship carers. We have considered that part of the judgment, which I referred to during a Question last week, pertaining to non-parental carers, alongside internal reviews that the Department for Work and Pensions carried out in parallel to the legal case. We are pleased to announce that it is right that this change should be extended, not just to those in non-parental caring arrangements but also to include children who are adopted who would otherwise be in local authority care. We can respond positively to all noble Lords who have been pressing us on this point.