I can today announce that we will extend the existing support within Universal Credit and Child Tax Credit for children who would otherwise be likely to be in local authority care, including children who are adopted or looked after by non-parental carers, also known as ‘kinship’ carers.
The policy to provide support in Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit for a maximum of two children ensures parents in receipt of benefits face the same choices as those supporting themselves solely through work.
We recognise that not all parents are able to make the same choices about the number of children in their family. That is why exceptions have been put in place to protect certain groups. Exceptions apply to third and subsequent children who are part of a multiple birth; adopted or in non-parental caring arrangements when they would otherwise be in local authority care; or likely to have been born as a result of non-consensual conception.
For children who would otherwise be likely to be in local authority care, these exceptions will be applied regardless of the order in which they joined a household.
The Government recognises the immense value of the care that non-parental carers and adoptive parents provide. The role that those parents and carers play in helping to bring children up who could otherwise find themselves in local authority care is vital. It is for this reason that we are ensuring that they are supported by enabling them to access benefit entitlement in the same way as birth parents.
Since becoming Secretary of State, I have been reviewing this issue carefully to ensure that the exceptions, as they apply to non-parental carers and adoptive parents, provide the right level of support.
Last week, I welcomed the High Court ruling that the policy to provide support for a maximum of two children was lawful overall. I have considered the part of the judgment that pertains to non-parental carers alongside internal reviews that the Department for Work and Pensions carried out in parallel to the legal case, and I consider that it is right that this change should be extended, not just to those in non-parental caring arrangements, but also to include children who are adopted who would otherwise be in local authority care.
This change will reassure those non-parental carers and parents who adopt and are eligible for this child support, that it will be available to them regardless of the order in which their children joined the household.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: