A Bradford MP has called on the UK government to scrap its “abhorrent” two-child benefits limit after research found that his constituency is one of the worst affected regions in the country.
Imran Hussain, the Labour MP for Bradford East, spoke out against the policy at an event earlier this week, warning that more children are being pushed into poverty due the impact of the policy; which has been made even worse by the economic fallout of the Coronavirus pandemic.
While the policy is largely supported by the general public, charities claim the two-child limit is at least partly responsible for rising child poverty rates.
The Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) estimates that there were 4.2 million children living in relative poverty in the UK in 2018-19, or 30% of all children living in the UK. This is expected to rise to 5.2 million by 2022.
Research carried out last year by the Church of England, supported by CPAG, estimated that 50,000 children across Bradford have been adversely affected by the two-child limit, which limits the amount of benefits support a family can receive to their first two children.
The research ranked Bradford West as the worst affected region in the UK, while Bradford East, Mr Hussains constituency, was ranked the 16th worst affected.
Mr Hussain told the Telegraph & Argus: “The Government’s two-child welfare limit is an abhorrent policy that disproportionately affects those from inner cities and represents the very worst of their demonisation of those families on lower incomes.
“It is a policy that delivers no meaningful benefits whilst plunging thousands of children into poverty.
“Growing up in poverty statistically means that a child is less likely to achieve academically and enter a well-paid, high-skill career, whilst being more likely to suffer from poverty-related health issues, all of which the Government have pledged to address but failed to deliver on.
“It also means that they often end up trapped in a cycle of poverty and deprivation that repeats itself over and over for generations.”
He added: “Ministers must recognise that it is the children affected by this policy who suffer the most when their families are unable to get by and when they are forced to grow up in poverty, and the Government must commit to scrapping the two-child limit so that they can lift thousands of children out of poverty, not drag them into it.”
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “We’re committed to supporting the most vulnerable in society and understand the challenges many people are facing.
“That is why we injected £6.5bn into the welfare system, including increasing Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit by up to £1,040 a year.
“The two child policy ensures fairness by asking families getting benefits to make the same financial choices as people who support themselves solely through work, and there are exemptions and safeguards in place.”