A new report into the Government’s two-child limit estimates ‘that at least 350,000 families and 1.25 million children have now been affected by the policy’ since it started 4 years ago. The report, from the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), urges the Government to lift the two-child limit.
Since 6 April 2017, parents having a third or subsequent child are no longer eligible for support for that child through child tax credit and universal credit if they need it. This support is worth up to £2,830 per child per year, and the limit means that a low-income family expecting their third child and receiving universal credit will only receive £14 per week in child benefit, when the estimated cost of providing that child with a socially-accepted minimum standard of living is £93 per week.
The report highlights that the impact of the two-child limit on families has been compounded by other cuts to social security including benefit freezes and the benefit cap, and that before Covid-19, £36 billion per year had been cut from social security as a result of government policies since 2010.
The report also reveals the toll that the limit has taken on families, with many ‘having to cut back on essentials, such as clothes, dentistry, baby equipment, and the quality and quantity of food’ and ‘experiencing problem debt and rent arrears as a result.’
Leader of Tower Hamlets Labour Group, Mayor John Biggs said: “This report lays bare the huge impact that the two-child limit has had on many families across the country, including here in Tower Hamlets. The limit fails to recognise that a crisis can happen to families at any time and it locks families out of thousands of pounds worth of support when they need it most.
“Over 1 million children have already been affected by the limit, and with many families likely to struggle even more once the temporary protections and support provided during the pandemic come to an end, the Government must scrap the two-child limit to ensure that families get the support they need.”
Cllr Mufeedah Bustin, Tower Hamlets Labour Group’s Lead Member for Planning and Social Inclusion (Job Share), said: “The report makes clear that if the two-child limit were removed today, 200,000 children would immediately be lifted out of poverty, and 600,000 children would be living in less deep poverty.
“We do a lot of work locally through our Tackling Poverty Fund, and we’re one of few councils that has a universal Free School Meal scheme, but the Government could make a huge difference to many families by scrapping the limit, particularly amid the ongoing economic fallout of Covid-19.”