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Clause 11 - Changes to child tax credit

Part of Welfare Reform and Work Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:45 am on 13th October 2015.

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Photo of Damian Hinds Damian Hinds The Exchequer Secretary 10:45 am, 13th October 2015

I welcome the hon. Member for Oldham East and Saddleworth to her place in the Committee and, more broadly, to the Opposition Front Bench. She has a hard act to follow in the shape of the hon. Member for Stretford and Urmston, but I know that she will execute her work absolutely admirably in this Committee and beyond. She and the hon. Member for Islington South and Finsbury have spoken powerfully about the challenges faced by the parents of disabled children. I echo them in acknowledging the invaluable work that such parents and families do in difficult circumstances.

The Government are protecting benefits related to the additional costs of disability and care by exempting them from the freeze and from the cap that we discussed on another day. Those benefits include personal independence payments, disability living allowance and the support group component of employment and support allowance. Additionally, we will continue to increase those benefits by inflation. The Government are committed to supporting disabled children. We have reformed the special needs system to support children continuously from birth to the age of 25 and increased our spend on the main disability benefits by more than £2 billion over the course of the last Parliament. Overall, of course, we continue to spend about £50 billion on disability benefits and services each year.

My understanding is that amendments 83 and 84 would have the effect of removing households with one or more children with a disability from the two-child support limit policy in child tax credit and universal credit respectively. Thus, a family with five children, one of whom is disabled, would continue to receive child tax credit or universal credit in respect of all five children, as well as the appropriate disabled child element in child tax credit and the additional amount in universal credit. The Government think it right that, just as families who support themselves solely through work must weigh up financial considerations when deciding to have more  children, families in receipt of benefits should face the same sorts of financial consideration. That should apply to all families.

In recognition of the costs of supporting disabled children, we will create a separate disability element of child tax credit that will be payable for all disabled children, regardless of whether they are the third or subsequent children or otherwise. We will continue to pay the relevant additional amount for disabled children in universal credit, regardless of whether those children are the third or subsequent children or otherwise.

The hon. Member for Bermondsey and Old Southwark rightly raised the subject of childcare. He will know that, in the tax-free childcare system that we are introducing, there is, quite rightly, a special addition to recognise the additional costs of childcare that pertain for children with a disability. In the overall offer of 15 hours and 30 hours of childcare there is, as he will know, rightly a statutory duty on local authorities to ensure proper provision for children with disabilities in the nurseries that their families trust.