On 24th April 2019 the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, asked a question he had tabled on the impact of the two-child limit for Universal Credit and Child Tax Credit payments. The exchanges, and the follow-up questions from other Members, are below:
Universal Credit and Child Tax Credit: Two-child Limit
The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what analysis they have made of the impact of the two-child limit on the per-child element of Universal Credit and Child Tax Credit payments on (1) child poverty, and (2) child development, for children under five years old affected by the policy.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Buscombe) (Con): My Lords, the Government are committed to supporting child well-being, and keep the impact of all their policies under review. This policy ensures fairness between those supporting themselves solely through work and those receiving benefits. Isolating the effect of the many individual policies on the income and well-being of children and families is, of course, challenging. Child benefit continues to be paid for all children, as well as an additional amount for any disabled children. Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks Government about impact of two-child limit on child development and poverty”
On the 25th February 2019 the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Paul Butler, received a written answer to a question about Universal Credit, the two-child limit and the cost of childcare.
The Lord Bishop of Durham: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the report by the Social Metrics Commission ‘A new measure for poverty for the UK’, published in September 2018, what steps they are taking to ensure working parents with more than two children and who are claiming Universal Credit are not being pushed further into poverty due to the cost of childcare. [HL13861] Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks Government about universal credit and child poverty”
On 21st February 2019 Lord Bassam of Brighton asked the Government “whether they intend to reconsider recent changes to access to free school meals following their decision to delay the roll out of Universal Credit.” The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, asked a question on the two-child limit:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, the two-child limit means that welfare reforms weigh particularly heavily on families with three or more children. What assessment have the Government made of the consequence of changes to free school meals that are set to impact on children with more than one sibling? Does the Minister agree that this policy will effectively harm children from large families through no fault of their own? Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks Government about impact of two-child limit on access to free school meals”
On 8th January 2019 the House of Lords heard the repeat of a Government statement on delaying the timetable for a full rollout of Universal Credit. The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, asked a clarificatory question:
The Lord Bishop of Durham: My Lords, I thank the Minister for the time that she has given to a number of us. The session that we had at the DWP was very informative and helpful, and I thank her for it. However, I am still confused as to why, when we met the Minister, we were told that these regulations had to be dealt with before Christmas, yet we are still not clear exactly what regulations we will be asked to debate. Can she please clarify that? Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks for clarity on Universal Credit regulations”
On 12th December 2018 the Bishop of Newcastle, Rt Revd Christine Hardman, received a written answer to a question on hardship and the impact on debt & health in Universal Credit pilot areas:
The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking (1) to address hardship caused in Universal Credit pilot areas, and (2) to ensure that the same impacts on debt and health are not caused by the future roll-out of Universal Credit. Continue reading “Bishop of Newcastle asks about steps to reduce hardship in Universal Credit areas”
On 17th May 2018 the Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, received a written answer to three questions he had tabled on Universal Credit:
Lord Bishop of Durham:
(i) To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many families claiming Universal Credit incur childcare costs above £760.42 per month for one child or £1303.57 for two or more children.
(ii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to ensure that the maximum amount of childcare costs supported through Universal Credit reflects the cost of full-time childcare for children under three.
(iii) To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the effect on childcare providers of payment in arrears of Universal Credit. Continue reading “Bishop of Durham asks Government about childcare costs and Universal Credit”
The following letter, expressing concern about the consequences of the two-child limit policy for children and families was signed by sixty bishops (including nineteen Lords Spiritual) and representatives from other denominations and faiths. It appeared in The Times newspaper on 6th April 2018.
The publication of the letter coincided with the release of a report from the End Child Poverty Coalition assessing the impact of the policy, which was introduced in April 2017. The accompanying press release from the Coalition can be accessed here, and the Church of England’s media notice is available here.
The Bishop of Durham, Rt Revd Paul Butler, published a blog on the Church of England’s website on the same day, the full text of which is also reproduced below.
Two-child limit on Universal Credit
Sir, Today the “two-child limit” policy, which restricts tax credit and universal credit to the first two children in a family, has been in place for a year. The policy is making it harder for parents to achieve a stable and resilient family life. By 2021, 640,000 families will have been affected. Most are low-earning working families, most have three children and some will have made decisions about family size when they were able to support children through earnings alone, but later claimed tax credits or universal credit after bereavement, redundancy, separation, disability, illness or simply low pay. Continue reading “Bishops highlight consequences of the two-child limit in letter to The Times and blog post”
On 20th March, a vote took place on a Regret Motion tabled by Labour’s Lord Bassam of Brighton to Regulations changing entitlement to free school meals. The Bishop of Portsmouth took part. His speech in the debate is here. Continue reading “Votes: Changes to Free School Meals Entitlements”
On 20th March 2018 the House of Lords debated the motion ‘that this House regrets Her Majesty’s Government bringing forward changes in entitlement to free school meals through the Free School Lunches and Milk, and School and Early Years Finance (Amendments Relating to Universal Credit) (England) Regulations 2018 which will undermine work incentives in Universal Credit and leave up to a million poor children unable to claim free school meals; and calls on Her Majesty’s Government not to implement the Regulations until a full poverty impact assessment has been completed and considered by both Houses, and not before six months has elapsed (SI 2018/148). The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt Revd Christopher Foster, spoke in the debate:
The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, it normally gives me great pleasure to speak in your Lordships’ house, but this evening I speak with some sorrow. I am hoping that the proposals made by the Government—involving, I am sure, the Treasury, the Department for Education and the Department for Work and Pensions—are perhaps the result of the complexity of those interlocking interests and have inadvertently left what surely cannot be intended. The consequences of this policy run counter to everything that the Government have said about the principle of universal credit, which I and many others have supported. If the consequences are unintended then I shall be delighted and relieved to hear the Minister say so.
Continue reading “Bishop of Portsmouth warns of cliff-edge consequences for poor families, of changes to free school meal rules”