CSAN joint House of Lords briefing on the ‘two-child limit’ in the Welfare Reform and Work Bill

CSAN jointly prepared this briefing with The Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Board of Deputies of British Jews, The Church of England, The Church of Scotland, Interlink, The Methodist Church, Quakers in Britain, and the United Reformed Church. We represent faith communities from different traditions, but share deeply held concerns about clauses 11 and 12 of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill, which will limit the support provided to families through tax credits and Universal Credit to the first two children.

Two-child limit

For brevity, we refer to this measure as the “two-child limit”. Judaism and Christianity, through their shared inheritance, have always treated children as a blessing rather than as a burden. A third, fourth, or fifth child is no less precious than the first. Anything which sends the implicit message that a child is unwanted, unvalued or superfluous should be strongly resisted. We understand and respect the need for a more sustainable fiscal policy as part of the Government’s deficit reduction strategy. However, this measure should be urgently reconsidered in view of the likely economic and social impact on families and their children:

  • It will undermine the financial security of larger families, who stand to lose up to £2,780 for each additional child beyond the first two. By 2020/21, at least two million children will be affected, many of whom are already in, or at risk of, poverty. Many families will be unable to meet their children’s essential needs.
  • The majority of those affected are working families. Substantially cutting their support sends an unhelpful message about the rewards of work.
  • This measure will impact on many families who already have three or more children if they make a new claim for Universal Credit as a result of common, but unpredictable, life events, such as job loss or the onset of disability.
  • These changes will also impact negatively on family life and have unintended consequences on bereaved parents, victims of domestic violence, and kinship carers.

We urge Peers/Members to support amendments that would remove or reduce the impact of these clauses.

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