Wes Streeting says 'bear with' government on two-child benefit cap - as PM Sir Keir Starmer faces first backbench challenge

Health Secretary Wes Streeting has urged people to "bear with" the government as it struggles to afford all the policies it wants to implement.

His defence comes amid growing calls from Labour backbenches for the government to scrap the two-child benefit cap - with it shaping up to be the new prime minister's first major row with his own party.

It is estimated that 1.6 million children are missing out on benefits due to the cap.

Politics latest: Starmer pressed on extra bank holiday

The Conservative government introduced the cap, which prevents parents from claiming child tax credit or Universal Credit for more than two children for those born after April 2017.

It means families cannot claim about £3,200 a year per extra child, the Resolution Foundation has said.

The new PM Sir Keir Starmer has previously called for the cap to be scrapped - but says it is not currently affordable to do so.

Speaking to the Politics Hub with Sophy Ridge, Mr Streeting said he voted against the cap when it was introduced, and he is not comfortable with it.

He added that Work and Pensions Secretary Liz Kendall is working "at pace" on a cross-government plan to tackle child policy, like the last Labour government.

Mr Streeting said: "Now, we said before the election we wouldn't make promises unless we could keep them - we wouldn't make promises unless we knew the country could afford them.

"I think people are going to have to bear with the government on a whole range of fronts, as we try and clean up the terrible mess the Conservatives have left."

Read more:
Two-child cap to hit extra 670,000 children in next five years
How will benefits change under Labour

Among those opposing the government's position is John McDonnell, a senior member of the backbench Socialist Campaign Group (SCG) of Labour MPs.

He also served as shadow chancellor under former leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr McDonnell told Times Radio that he would look to amend the budget if it doesn't include steps to scrap the benefit cap.

But the veteran MP says he does not think it will come to that.

👉 Click to subscribe to the Sky News Daily wherever you get your podcasts 👈

Another Labour opponent is Kim Johnson - also a member of the SCG.

She told Sky News: "But I would like to see lifting the two-child benefit cap a priority for the new government as the most cost-effective and most impactful way to immediately alleviate child poverty in communities like mine across the country.

"This policy has broad brush support across the political spectrum, and I can think of no issue that is more urgent."

The Liberal Democrats, Green Party and SNP also want to end the cap, and Reform leader Nigel Farage has spoken out against it.

Any rebellion against the government would likely need to also enlist the support of the Conservatives to hope to beat the government.