Blocking Government reforms was “vital to protect children facing poverty"

Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) has welcomed the House of Lords amendment excluding child benefit from the proposed household benefit cap of £26,000.

The bishops’ conference agency said that the successful amendment, introduced by the Rt Rev John Packer, Anglican Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, was “vital to protect children facing poverty.”

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith wants out-of-work payments limited to £26,000 a year per household, which he claims will save “something in the order” of £600 million towards deficit reduction.

However, the amendment to the welfare reform Bill was carried by 252 votes to 237, and comes after numerous faith groups and charities expressed concern over the impact that the cap will have on children.

Responding to the vote CSAN, an umbrella group for Catholic charities, said: “We are pleased that the House of Lords has voted in favour of this very sensible amendment. Excluding child benefit from the cap will allow a degree of flexibility in recognition of children’s basic needs, and will mitigate the impact on some of the poorest and most vulnerable families in our society.

“We hope that the government will take account of the concerns expressed by those working to support these families and will review this area before the welfare reform Bill returns to the House of Commons.”

Earlier this week Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark said that a cut in child benefit “could seriously disadvantage larger families and push more children into poverty”.

He said: “The welfare bill is an incredibly complex legislation and I do not envy anyone who wishes to sort it out. What’s happening is that the poorest and most vulnerable get the worst result.”