Labour's Wes Streeting 'welcomes' Archbishop of Canterbury call to scrap two-child benefit cap

Labour's shadow health secretary has said he "welcomes" an intervention by the Archbishop of Canterbury calling on the current government and Sir Keir Starmer to drop the two-child benefit cap.

Wes Streeting, who himself was brought up on benefits, said he took Justin Welby "really seriously" and saw his plea as part of "the central driving mission of Christianity - the rage against injustice".

He told Sky's Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips: "I actually really welcome the Archbishop of Canterbury, his intervention.

"You're never going to find - if there's a Labour government - politicians being sent out to attack the Archbishop of Canterbury for virtue signalling, as Conservative campaigns have done.

"It is literally his job - he's the one person in the country whose job it is to signal virtue. And if the mission of the Church is not to alleviate poverty and suffering, then I don't know what is."

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The archbishop, who's been criticised by some Tory MPs for politicising his office, has called on Mr Sunak and a potential Labour government to drop the cap, which prevents parents claiming child benefits for any third or subsequent child born after April 2017.

Mr Welby told The Observer that the "cruel" two-child limit "falls short of our values as a society" and was "neither moral nor necessary".

Sir Keir has angered some in his party by refusing to abolish the cap, which he's said he cannot commit to due to "tough decisions" his party will face if voted into power.

Critics claim the limit has pushed families into poverty and that scrapping it would lift around 270,000 households with children out of it - at an estimated cost of £1.4bn in the first year.

Mr Welby's words were preceded by a similar intervention from former prime minister Gordon Brown.

He told Sky News earlier this week that UK children were suffering "the highest levels of poverty in living memory" - with basics including shampoo, soap and toothpaste now considered "luxury items".

Mr Brown also repeated his calls for a "root and branch" review of Universal Credit, which he said had "gone wrong" - including the two-child benefit cap introduced by the Conservatives in 2017.

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Wes Streeting told Trevor Phillips he voted against the two-child limit when it was introduced, "so by definition, I wish it wasn't there".

But he echoed his party leader in saying the state of the public finances meant there are "harder choices to make".

"If we are fortunate enough to be in government after the next general election, we will have a serious cross-government strategy for not just reducing child poverty, but ending child poverty," said Mr Streeting.