Jewish leaders have welcomed MPs’ call for the Government to end its two-child cap on welfare payments, after Boris Johnson’s election pledges this week.
It follows a report from the Work and Pensions Select Committee, published this week, which said “no government should be willing to accept” the consequences of a two-child limit.
Board of Deputies’ chief executive Gillian Merron said: “The Committee is unambiguous in its recommendation that the two-child cap should be abolished, due to the flawed assumptions underpinning it and the misery it creates in practice.
“We have been advocating this from the start and, having witnessed the hardship that it has created, are glad to see it recognised. We call on parties aspiring to form the next government to pledge to scrap the cap with all due haste.”
Chaired by former Labour MP Frank Field, the Committee considered the impact of changes introduced on 6 April 2017. From this date, any children born subsequent to a couple’s first two children were not entitled to the “child element” of tax credits or Universal Credit, which is worth £2,780 a year.
Last month, the Committee heard from faith groups including the Interlink Foundation, which represents Britain’s Orthodox Jewish community, noting “the disproportionate impact that the policy can have on some communities”.
About 52 percent of Jewish families in the UK have three or more children, while around 60 percent of Muslim families fall into the same category. Nationwide, only 31 percent of families have more than two children.
Interlink Foundation chief executive Chaya Spitz said: “It is a reality that Orthodox Jewish families have more children. There is a clear correlation between the level of observance in the orthodoxy of a family and the number of children that they have.”
Baroness Ros Altmann, a former minister of state for pensions and child maintenance, echoed the call. “I certainly support the idea of ending the two-child cap on benefits,” she said.
“I do not believe the welfare system should discourage people having more than just two children. Of course parents need to be responsible enough to ensure they can provide for children, but families having more than two children can benefit society at large in the longer run.”
In the Orthodox community of Stamford Hill, school principal Rabbi Avroham Pinter applauded the work of the Interlink Foundation, saying: “All the major faiths have been working in unity for the abolition of the two-child cap.”
He added: “It has had a disproportionate negative effect on the Jewish community, creating misery and hardship to the most vulnerable and increased child poverty. I sincerely hope that the next government will make it a top priority to scrap this unfair cap as soon as practicable.”