Mayor John Biggs has backed calls from a cross-party committee of MPs to scrap the controversial two-child limit and ‘return to providing support for all children through the benefits system.’
The cross-party report from the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee claims the two-child ‘disproportionately impacts some groups in society—including those who are already experiencing higher levels of poverty and deprivation’ and urges the government to scrap the limit.
The two-child limit, first announced in 2015 and implemented from 6th April 2017, means that any social security support provided to families for example through Universal Credit would be limited to the first two children. This means that families are losing out on the child element of tax credits or Universal Credit, worth £2,780 a year.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies has predicted that the two-child limit would lead to an increase in absolute poverty and child poverty.
There are a number of exemptions to the two-child limit, including the widely criticised “rape clause” which requires mums to prove to the Department for Work and Pensions that their child was conceived ‘as a result of a non-consensual sexual act (including rape), or at a time when the claimant was subject to ongoing control or coercion by the other biological parent of the child.’
A report recently published by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), commissioned by Tower Hamlets Council, examined the impact of universal credit on families in Tower Hamlets and found that the new social security system is ‘placing a considerable burden on local authority departments, voluntary sector organisations and social landlords in the borough… so often find it difficult to support claimants as they would like.’
Leader of Tower Hamlets Labour Group, Mayor John Biggs, said: “I welcome this cross-party report urging the government to rethink the two-child benefit limit. The policy is so out of touch with the everyday experience of families and it disproportionately impacts those already in poverty. In many cases it’s the children themselves who are the worst affected and in boroughs like Tower Hamlets, which has high child poverty levels and has seen universal credit rolled out, this can have a huge impact.”
Councillor Rachel Blake, the Labour Group’s Cabinet Member for Planning, Air Quality and Tackling Poverty, said: “The two-child limit fails to recognise that the circumstances of families change all the time, often causing them even greater hardship when they need more support. Not only do families face a benefit limit, but the benefits themselves have also been frozen over the previous five years making the situation far worse.”
- The Work and Pensions Committee’s report is available at: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201920/cmselect/cmworpen/51/51.pdf
- The IFS prediction is available at: https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/10028
- The CPAG report is available at: https://cpag.org.uk/news-blogs/news-listings/worse-impact-universal-credit-families-tower-hamlets