The North East Child Poverty Commission (NECPC) has joined forces with MPs and fellow End Child Poverty coalition members across the country to call for an end to the ‘two-child limit’ to social security payments, ahead of a debate in Parliament on this issue.
Today (11th July), MPs will call for the ‘ineffective and cruel’ two-child cap to be abolished in a debate led by the MP for Liverpool Riverside, Kim Johnson.
Research by the End Child Poverty coalition has found that, by 2022, 56,750 babies and children across the North East were directly impacted by the policy which means that – since its introduction in April 2017 – almost all families having a third or subsequent child are no longer entitled to receive support for those children through Universal Credit or Child Tax Credit.
And the new analysis of data published today has found that the North East Parliamentary constituencies worst impacted by the two-child limit include Middlesbrough (where one in five of all children are hit by the policy), Gateshead, Newcastle Central, Redcar, Hartlepool, and Stockton North.
35% of all babies, children and young people across the North East are living below the poverty line – with our region having experienced the steepest increases in child poverty of anywhere in the UK over most of the last decade. Two thirds of children living in poverty across the North East are from working families.
Recent research has shown that abolishing the two-child limit would be the most cost-effective way of reducing child poverty. If implemented, this would immediately lift 250,000 children out of poverty across the country – and a further 850,000 children would be raised out of deep poverty, at a cost of just £1.3 billion.
The government’s original – and continued – rationale for the policy is that parents who receive support from the social security system should make the ‘same financial choices’ about having children as those supporting themselves solely through work. However, the majority of families caught by the two-child limit across the country – 58% – are in work, with the policy creating a hole in their budgets that simply cannot be plugged by working additional hours.
Many others will have their children at a time when they are able to support themselves solely through work, but may need to turn to the social security system at some point in the future – for example, as a result of redundancy, bereavement, ill health or the breakdown of a relationship.
Bishop Paul’s Bill
The Rt Revd Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham and NECPC’s Patron, has introduced a Bill into Parliament which would end the two-child limit if enacted. He said:
“In 2021/22, almost 190,000 children in the North East were living below the poverty line. For many of these children, a simple change in policy would prevent this.
“Through abolishing the two-child limit, thousands more children in the North East would grow up free from poverty, allowing them to flourish, with their future life opportunities no longer limited by the number of siblings they have.”
Bishop Paul’s Bill passed its final stages in the House of Lords on 24 March, but is still awaiting a date for debate in the Commons.
Anna Turley, Chair of the North East Child Poverty Commission, added:
“Our social security system should provide a genuine safety net for families facing tough times – whether that’s losing a partner, being unable to secure decently paid work, or simply being unable to keep up with the cost of living. The two-child limit is denying families the support they need, with children paying a heavy price for this.
“And this policy is both cruel and ineffective because its only impact has been to increase hardship for babies and children across the North East where we’ve seen the steepest increases in child poverty of anywhere in the UK over most of the last decade. Ending the two-child limit would immediately improve the life chances of thousands of children across our region.”
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