Amber Rudd to relax two-child limit on universal credit

Amber Rudd to relax two-child limit on universal credit

The UK government’s two-child limit for families making new universal credit benefit claims is to be scrapped for households who had a third child before the policy came into effect.

From next month, new claims under the government’s new controversial welfare reform programme will have the child-benefit component restricted to two children.

Amber Rudd, the UK work and pensions secretary, will announce on Friday that cutting the benefit for families who had a third child before April 2017 “is not right”.

Ms Rudd will tell an audience in London on Friday morning: “These parents made decisions about the size of the family when the previous system was the only system in place”.

“So I can today announce that I am going to scrap the extension of the two-child limit on universal credit for children born before April 2017.”

The government said the move would help approximately 15,000 families a year and that all children born before that date would continue to receive the full universal credit benefit.

The Commons work and pensions select committee, which had described the policy as “simply inexplicable”, welcomed the announcement. But MPs on the committee said they would return to concerns surrounding the two child limit policy in a wider inquiry.

Ms Rudd will also delay a vote in the Commons which would have called on MPs to allow for 3m benefit claimants to be moved on to the new flagship programme.

A phased introduction of universal credit began in 2013, but the switch has been plagued by technical problems and critics say recipients have faced delays of six weeks or more for initial payments, pushing many into hardship.

Ms Rudd will instead ask MPs to approve the transfer of 10,000 claimants under a pilot scheme that will be closely monitored. MPs will then be asked to approve a further rollout. 

“This will begin, as planned, from July 2019 and the next six months will be a period of careful preparation”, Ms Rudd will say.

“The lessons from the pilot will inform our next steps, but there will be no overall delay. Universal credit migration will be completed, as planned, by 2023. However I will consider carefully the results of the pilot, and its implications for scaling-up migration.”

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