North East child poverty campaigners push Government to lift two-child benefit cap

Child poverty in the North East
-Credit: (Image: Kate Stanworth / Save The Children)


Pressure is building on Labour to scrap the two-child benefit cap after new figures showed that more than 60,000 children in the North East are affected by it.

The latest statistics have prompted renewed calls from charities and campaigners for the cap to be ditched, something Labour has not committed to. Figures published by the Department for Work and Pensions showed there were 1.6m children nationally living in households affected by the policy as of April this year, up by 100,000 from last year.

Last month, before becoming Prime Minister, Sir Keir said he would scrap the two-child limit “in an ideal world” but added that “we haven’t got the resources to do it at the moment”. Children’s charities have now made fresh pleas to end the policy, which was introduced in 2017 and restricts child tax credit and universal credit to the first two children in most households. Locally, the North East Child Poverty Commission said there was “no route’ to ending child poverty without scrapping two-child limit.

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Beth Farhat, chair of the commission, said: “We have warmly welcomed the new Government’s commitment to introduce an ambitious national child poverty strategy. This is desperately needed, and it must recognise the importance of investing more of our nation’s wealth in children and families now, so that they can access opportunities both today and in the future.

“It must also be evidence-led, and it is increasingly clear that there is no route to ending child poverty – either in the North East or across the UK – that does not involve scrapping the two-child limit. The new Government must make this an early priority, if its child poverty plan is to be as meaningful as tens of thousands of kids growing up now in the North East need it to be.”

The Resolution Foundation think-tank has said that abolishing the two-child limit would cost the Government somewhere between £2.5bn and £3.6bn, but that such costs are “low compared to the harm that the policy causes”. After the latest figures, it said almost two in five large families in the UK are now affected, and that things will get worse if it remains in place.

Action for Children said the figures “confirm the relentless expansion of this cruel policy, which creates and entrenches child poverty”, while Save the Children described the statistics as “an outrage” showing how “more and more children will suffer every year just because they have siblings”.

In a speech on the same day the figures were published, the president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) criticised the Government’s plan to “reduce” child poverty as not going far enough. Andy Smith, in a speech to the ADCS annual conference, said: “We need to eradicate child poverty if we are to start to create a society that is based on the principles of social justice and recognises the importance of childhood for all children.”

Asked about the two-child benefit cap while on a visit to the North East, Chancellor Rachel Reeves repeated her stance that she wouldn’t make spending commitments “without being able to say where the money is going to come from”.