Universal Credit (two-child policy)

The per-child element in Child Tax Credit and the equivalent element in Universal Credit (UC) was limited to two children for new claims and births from 6 April 2017. The intention with this policy is that all children should be treated equally and parents encouraged to take the decision to have more children based on whether they can afford to support additional children.
 
A benefits structure adjusting automatically to family size is unsustainable and is not fair to the taxpayer or to families who support themselves solely through work. This policy brings claimants in line with those people who support themselves solely through work who do not generally see their wages increase in line with the addition to the family of a new child.
 
I do recognise that some are not able to make the same choices about the number of children in their family, and I welcome the full support for third and subsequent children born after April 2017 in certain "exceptional circumstances."  This includes children cared for by family or close friends under "kinship care" arrangements, children adopted from local authority care, and multiple births.
 
[Optional - "non-consensual conceptions": There is also an exception for "non-consensual conceptions". This exception will not be tied to the criminal justice system and women will not be forced to "prove" that they have been raped in order to avoid losing their benefit award. The Government is considering how best this exception could be delivered through a third party evidence model, which is used elsewhere in the benefit system.]
 
I do not, however, believe this policy should be applied retrospectively. That is why I am glad the previous Secretary of State for Work and Pensions scrapped the extension of the two-child policy on UC for children born before April 2017. All children born before that date will continue to be supported by UC, and that will help approximately 15,000 families a year. This will ensure the two-child policy retains its fundamental fairness.
 
I believe this to be a fair and sustainable policy, and I will continue to follow this issue very closely.