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Universal Credit

Question for Department for Work and Pensions

UIN 96898, tabled on 4 January 2022

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what assessment she has made of the potential merits of removing the two-child limit from universal credit as recommended by the Social Mobility Commission in its State of the Nation 2021 report.

Answered on

12 January 2022

No assessment has been carried out since the Social Mobility Commission’s report. However, latest figures from April 2021 indicate that over 50% of those households with three or more children who are in receipt of Universal Credit, are not affected by the two-child policy, with over 4% of those being in receipt of an exception. Statistics relating to this policy are published annually, most recently on the 15 July 2021, and are available on GOV.UK.

Statistics from the Office for National Statistics show that in 2020, of all families with dependent children, 85% had a maximum of two in their family. For lone parent families, this was 83%.

The government therefore feels it is proportionate to provide support through Universal Credit for a maximum of two children. A benefits structure adjusting automatically to family size is unsustainable.

On 9 July 2021, the Supreme Court handed down its judgment in the judicial review of the two-child policy. The court found the two-child policy lawful and not in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights

This policy ensures fairness by asking families on benefits to make the same financial decisions as families supporting themselves solely through work. We recognise that some claimants are not able to make the same choices about the number of children in their family, which is why exceptions have been put in place to protect certain groups.

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Exceptions to the two-child policy are any child in a household who is:

  • Adopted, when they would otherwise be in Local Authority care;
  • Children living long term with friends or family, who would otherwise be at risk of entering the care system;
  • A child born to a young person under 16, who is living with their parents or carers (until they make a separate claim upon turning 16);
  • Third and subsequent children who are:

- additional children in a multiple birth;

- likely to have been born as a result of non-consensual conception (which for this

purpose includes rape or where the claimant was in a controlling or coercive

relationship with the child’s other biological parent at the time of conception).

More information regarding this policy and its exceptions, can be found on GOV.UK.