Bishop of Durham asks about impact of two-child limit on wellbeing of children and families

On 20th November 2018 the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, received answers to three written question about the impact of the two-child limit for Universal Credit claims on children’s wellbeing and financial resilience:

The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to their decision to extend the policy to provide Universal Tax Credit to a maximum of two children to new Universal Credit claimants from February 2019, whether there will be an exception for families with three or more children who were born before 6 April 2017.

Baroness Buscombe: Since 6 April 2017 families with third and subsequent children born on or after this date are able to claim additional support through Child Tax Credit or Universal Credit for their first two children only. This maximum support will also apply to entirely new claims to Universal Credit on or after 1 February 2019, regardless of the date of birth of their children.

Claimants that are already receiving support for those born before 6 April 2017 will continue to do so. If they subsequently move to or reclaim Universal Credit (following a break in claim of less than 6 months) they will receive the child element for the same number of children they were previously. This will apply both if they naturally migrate following a significant change of circumstances or are moved as part of managed migration, so long as they remain responsible for the same children.


The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to monitor and review the impact of the policy to provide Child Tax Credit and Universal Tax Credit to a maximum of two children on (1) children’s well-being, and (2) on the financial resilience of families affected by that policy.

Lord Bates: The policy to provide Child Tax Credits and Universal Credit for a maximum of two children ensures that those on benefits face the same financial choices around the number of children they can afford as those supporting themselves solely through work.

Work is the best way out of poverty and Universal Credit is supporting people into the labour market so they can get the skills they need to access better opportunities. There are 637,000 fewer children in workless households than in 2010 and unemployment is at a record low.

We are also supporting the finances of low-income families by decreasing the taper rate and increasing work allowances in Universal Credit, so people can earn more without losing their benefits. Our National Living Wage means the lowest paid have seen their wages grow by 8% above inflation between 2015 and 2018.


The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what measures they are taking to ensure that potential claimants are aware of the policy to provide Child Tax Credit and Universal Tax Credit to a maximum of two children; and what assessment they have made of the effectiveness of any such awareness-raising measures.

Lord Bates: The policy to provide support for a maximum of two children in Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Universal Credit (UC) was originally announced at Summer Budget 2015 and legislated for in the Welfare Reform Act 2016. The government chose to implement the policy from April 2017 to ensure households were aware of the policy before choosing to have third or subsequent children. HMRC also provided information in leaflets to all claimants renewing their CTC claim since 2016 and a leaflet has also been included in the CTC new claim pack since the policy came into force. Since August 2016 high level messaging about the policy has been available on GOV.UK.


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