Campaigners call for end to ‘two child limit’ to tax credits

The North East Child Poverty Commission (NECPC) has joined forces with MPs and fellow End Child Poverty coalition members across the country to call for an end to the ‘two-child limit’ to social security payments.

Research by the End Child Poverty coalition found that, by 2022, 56,750 babies and children across the North East were directly impacted by the policy which means that almost all families having a third or subsequent child since 2017 are no longer entitled to receive support for those children through Universal Credit or Child Tax Credit.

two children standing near cliff watching on ocean at daytime

The North East Parliamentary constituencies worst impacted by the two-child limit include Middlesbrough – where one in five children are hit by the policy – Gateshead, Newcastle Central, Redcar, Hartlepool and Stockton North.

More than a third of all babies, children and young people across the North East are living below the poverty line – with the region having experienced the steepest increases in child poverty of anywhere in the UK over most of the last decade. Two thirds of children living in poverty across the North East are from working families.

Abolishing the two-child limit would lift 250,000 children out of poverty across the country – and a further 850,000 children would be raised out of deep poverty, at a cost of £1.3bn.

The government’s rationale for the policy is that parents who receive support from the social security system should make the ‘same financial choices’ about having children as those supporting themselves solely through work. However, nearly 60% of families caught by the two-child limit across the country are in work, with the policy creating a hole in their budgets that cannot be plugged by working additional hours.

Many others will have their children at a time when they are able to support themselves solely through work, but may need to turn to the social security system at some point in the future – for example, as a result of redundancy, bereavement, ill health or the breakdown of a relationship.

Anna Turley, chair of the North East Child Poverty Commission, said: ‘Our social security system should provide a genuine safety net for families facing tough times – whether that’s losing a partner, being unable to secure decently paid work, or simply being unable to keep up with the cost-of-living. The two-child limit is denying families the support they need, with children paying a heavy price for this.

‘And this policy is both cruel and ineffective because its only impact has been to increase hardship for babies and children across the North East where we’ve seen the steepest increases in child poverty of anywhere in the UK over most of the last decade. Ending the two-child limit would immediately improve the life chances of thousands of children across our region.’

Image: Torsten Dederichs


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