Government reject fresh pressure to scrap two-child benefit cap

Fresh pressure to scrap the two-child benefit cap entirely has been rejected by the Government.

Work and pensions minister Alok Sharma told the Commons the Conservatives believe the overall policy – intended to force claimants to decide whether they can afford a third child in the same way as those in work – is “fair”.

Under pressure from opposition parties, Mr Sharma (pictured) reiterated the Government would not extend the cap to new Universal Credit (UC) claimants.

He said: “We do believe the overall policy is fair.

“Ultimately those who are receiving support in the welfare system should be facing the same sort of choices as those who support themselves solely through work do.

“It’s worth pointing out that for a family that supports themselves solely through work, if they decide to have another child they wouldn’t automatically expect their wages to go up – this is about sustainability.”

Mr Sharma’s remarks came in response to an urgent question from Labour on changes to UC, which Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd announced last week.

Labour’s Margaret Greenwood suggested the two-child limit should be scrapped for everyone as she raised a series of questions, including on delays to a plan to move three million people on to the single benefit payment until 2020.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Ms Greenwood said: “Does he think the two-child limit is fair for the children affected by it, and will the Government not scrap the two-child limit altogether?”

SNP MP Alison Thewliss (Glasgow Central) said the U-turn “vindicates” campaigning by charities and faith groups and called on the minister to go further and scrap the cap.

“None of us will be fully satisfied while the two-child limit applies for births after 6 April 2016,” said Ms Thewliss. “It must be scrapped now.

“The Secretary of State has accepted already the fundamental unfairness of the two-child limit so why does he feel this policy, with its cruel and pernicious rape clause, must continue even though it has been ruled unfair for other people?

“Does he not see this creates a two-tier system depending on when children were born?”

Pointing out the court judgment had only been made on Friday, Mr Sharma said: “We will consider that and respond.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Dominic Lipinski / PA Wire.