Figures show one in ten children hit by two-child limit

Children’s charities have written to party leaders in the House of Commons demanding the removal of the two-child limit on benefits after official figures showed one in 10 children are now affected by the policy.

The two-child limit, which took effect in 2017, is one of the biggest drivers of rising child poverty – up from 3.6 million children below the poverty line in 2010/11 to 4.2 million in 2021/22.

five children sitting on bench front of trees

Figures published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show that 1.5 million children are now affected by the limit. Most families (59%) subject to the policy are in paid work, the DWP figures show. In addition, 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.

The charities’ letter to party leaders said that failure to remove the limit ‘will permit a cohort of children to grow up in poverty, to miss out on play, to be held back at school and denied a better future. Children need the leaders of this country to protect their childhood and secure their futures and abolish the two-child limit.’

Removing the two-child limit would pull 250,000 children out of poverty overnight while 850,000 children would be in less deep poverty.

Alison Garnham, chief executive of Child Poverty Action Group, said: ‘We’ve reached a tragic milestone with one in ten children now affected by this cruel tax on siblings. We wouldn’t deny a third child NHS care or an education – how is it right to deny children much-needed support because of the brothers or sisters they have?

‘The two-child limit is one of the most brutal government policies of our times. All this policy does is push more than a million children into poverty, or deeper poverty. Party leaders must commit to removing the two-child limit before more children are harmed.’

Rocio Cifuentes, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, said: ‘I’m gravely concerned about the impact of child poverty in Wales, and I’ve continuously called on the Welsh Government to plan and monitor specific and measurable actions to help the huge numbers of children who are affected. But it is clear that the UK government are responsible for the main levers of financial support for families living in poverty.

‘There are obvious changes that the UK government could and should make to welfare payments, which would instantly put more money in the pockets of thousands of families. This includes getting rid of the two-child limit, which effectively punishes children for having more than one sibling, depriving them of their human rights to a good standard of living, health, and development. This is a cruel policy that must be scrapped.’

Image: Piron Guillaume


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