Two-child benefit limit causing ‘serious and significant harm’

The controversial two-child limit benefit policy is affecting over 1.3 million vulnerable children, official DWP figures show.

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According to numbers released by the DWP today, the number of British children affected by the social security two-child restriction has surpassed 1.3 million (8.7 percent or 1 in 12 children).

This applies to all children in a household where the limit has been applied, not only the third and subsequent children who are ineligible for child allowances in universal credit and tax credits.

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Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) and the Benefit Changes and Larger Families project warn that as living costs rise, the policy’s negative effects on children would escalate, jeopardising the prospects of one out of every twelve children.

The two-child restriction restricts child allowances in universal credit and tax credits worth £2,935 annually to the first two children in a household, unless the children were born before April 6, 2017, when the regulation took effect.

Today’s DWP figures demonstrate that the policy impacts 360,000 households, of which 59% are employed.

According to charities and anti-poverty advocates, the two-child restriction is one of the leading causes of growing child poverty.

Over fifty percent of children in households with more than two children are projected to be living in poverty by 2026/27.

Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group Alison Garnham said: “The two-child limit is piling on the pain for affected families.

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“It forces families to survive on less than they need, pushes them deeper and deeper into poverty as costs rise – and today’s emergency cost-of-living payment does nowhere near enough to pull them back.

“One in twelve children are taking the consequences of this brutal policy – their health, development and well-being are being jeopardised. If every child matters – not just some – the policy must be abolished.”

The cost of living crisis has left some parents fearful of how they will cope with rising food prices and energy costs.

One parent subject to the two-child limit said: “If anything I think it’s about to get worse… things are going up high, …. so, you know, that is worrying. I don’t think there is any hope at the moment.”

Commenting, Kate Andersen from the Benefit Changes and Larger Families project said: “Our research indicates the serious and significant harms the two-child limit is causing affected children.

“These harms affect all of the children in a household where the two-child limit is being applied, which we today learn numbers one in twelve children.

“While parents do all they can to stop children from being impacted by the two-child limit, the policy makes it almost impossible for affected families to meet basic needs.

“The policy creates social and emotion harms, and can increase tensions within the household. We know that these harms are likely to have long-term negative consequences for children’s physical health, social, behavioural and emotional development, cognitive development and school achievement.

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“There is a simple, research-led solution: abolish the two-child limit, and end a policy that drives and deepens child poverty.”

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