Bishop of Durham tables question on support for larger families

The Bishop of Durham asked a question on adequacy of support offered to larger families by the Department for Work and Pensions on 11th January 2022:

The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the adequacy of support offered by the Department for Work and Pensions to larger families.

Baroness Stedman-Scott (Con, DWP): No assessment has been made as every household has different requirements. While there is no objective way of deciding what an adequate level of support should be, the department will spend more than £110 billion this year—4.8% of GDP—on working-age benefits. Additionally, the Government offer a wide range of support to families with children depending on their circumstances, including free school meals, childcare, Healthy Start vouchers and the household support fund.

The Lord Bishop of Durham: I thank the Minister for her response. According to the benefit changes and large families research carried out by the Child Poverty Action Group with the Universities of York and Oxford and the LSE, the increase in child poverty since 2012-13 has been sharpest among families with three or more children at 47%, compared with 24% for families with one or two children. These families are deeply affected by the two-child limit. They have been severely affected by the £20 cut to universal credit last September and they are less able to increase their working hours due to childcare demands. What are the Government planning to do to address the levels of poverty among larger families while the cost of living is rising steeply?

Baroness Stedman Scott: The right reverend Prelate is always consistent in raising these important points. To start with, let me say that I quite understand, as do others, the issue of childcare. We must do what we can to try to improve opportunity and facility. The right reverend Prelate asked me what we plan to do. Let me say what we have done. We continue to take action to support living standards by increasing the national living wage and reducing the universal credit taper rate, which has more than compensated for the £20 uplift in UC. We also recognise that some people will need extra help this winter as the economy recovers, so we have made £500 million of funding available across the UK to help. Rather than read out a whole list of things that we have done, let me say that I am sure the Government are doing everything they can to help people in these circumstances.


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