To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, how many households in Northern Ireland are subject to the two-child limit in relation to Child Tax Credits; and how many children in total live in those households.
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with reference to the (a) Northern Ireland Affairs Committee and Work and Pensions Committee's joint recommendation, in September 2019, to halt implementation of the two-child limit in Northern Ireland, pending a full investigation into its financial impact on families with children and the potential discrimination against those with larger families and poorer communities, and (b) the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on families dependent on social security, what recent assessment the Government has made of the potential merits of undertaking that recommended investigation.
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, whether he has had discussions with the (a) Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and (b) Chancellor of the Exchequer on the potential effect on levels of (i) poverty and (ii) child poverty in Northern Ireland of (A) maintaining the universal credit £20 uplift for at least a year and (B) extending that uplift to legacy benefits.
While welfare and employment are devolved matters in Northern Ireland, we have been working closely with the NI Executive throughout the pandemic and have provided substantial additional resources to enable it to respond to the crisis. The Executive holds no statistical information on the impact of welfare programmes, but there is no doubt that it is committed to combating poverty via the Anti-Poverty and Child Poverty strategies, which were agreed to in the New Decade, New Approach agreement.
A range of additional support measures are available for the people of NI through the Finance Support Service, including: the Universal Credit Contingency Fund short-term living expenses grant; the Discretionary Support self-isolation grant; the short-term benefit advance; the Social Fund budgeting loan; and the Social Fund Sure Start Maternity grant. These are in addition to the welfare mitigations schemes in place.
The UK Government has injected £9.3 billion to strengthen the welfare system. Increased Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit allowances will benefit those most in need by up to £1,040 this financial year.
Our long-term ambition is to tackle poverty through a reformed system that works with the labour market to encourage people to move into work wherever possible. Since 2010 in the UK there are: 200,000 fewer people in absolute poverty; 100,000 fewer children in absolute poverty; and 100,000 fewer pensioners in absolute poverty. Moreover, absolute poverty rates have fallen in every region.