Gov. must end ‘two-child limit’ for payment of benefits!

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Demonstration outside Parliament against child poverty – 600,000 children have now been affected by the Tory government’s two-child limit to ‘Universal Credit’

UP to 600,000 children have now been affected by the Tory government’s two-child limit to ‘Universal Credit’ benefits, the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has warned in a crisis analysis, urging the government to end its ‘two- child limit’ for payment of benefits to families.

At least 161,000 families have been affected, and 59% of these affected families are working – while 58 per cent have three children.

(Just four per cent of affected families receive an exception, 510 of which are on the grounds of conception as a result of non-consensual sex).

In response to these HMRC official statistics showing the number of families affected by the two-child limit in tax credits and Universal Credit after two years of the policy, the Chief Executive of CPAG, Alison Garnham, has insisted:

‘Every child deserves a good start in life, but today’s figures are a grim reminder of the human cost of this nasty policy, which says that some children are more deserving than others purely on the basis of their birth order – and which mostly affects working families.

‘In the UK we would never turn a third-born child away from school or hospital.  How can it be right to deny the same young children the support they need to enjoy a childhood free from poverty when their family falls on hard times?

‘Our recent survey of over 400 affected families revealed the deep damage the policy has already done in just two years. Parents reported more conflict at home – even between siblings – as money worries rise and older children have to relinquish childhood fundamentals like football club, school trips and swimming lessons so that nappies, baby milk and bills  can be paid for.

‘Many parents had to borrow money each month to get by, and several had considered terminations when they found out about the policy after they became pregnant.

‘The two-child limit undermines family life and leaves children without support in their vital early years, when the foundations are being laid for their future development. The government should lift the two-child limit to help all children thrive.’

CPAG’s analysis indicates that 1.8 million children are likely to be affected by the two child limit by 2023. Of these one million will already be living below the poverty line, and will be pushed deeper into poverty by the policy.

On top of that, an estimated further 300,000 will be pushed into poverty by the two-child limit.

More of Scotland’s families fall into two-child limit net, the CPAG states. And in response to these HMRC statistics showing the number of families affected by the two-child limit in tax credits and Universal Credit after two years of the policy, Director of Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, John Dickie said:

‘Our recent survey of over 400 affected families in Scotland and across the UK revealed the deep damage the policy has already done in just two years.

‘Parents reported more conflict at home – even between siblings – as money worries rise and older children have to relinquish childhood fundamentals like football club, school trips and swimming lessons so that nappies, baby milk and bills can be paid for.

‘Many parents had to borrow money each month to get by, and several had considered terminations when they found out about the policy after they became pregnant.

‘The two-child limit undermines family life and leaves children without support in their vital early years, when the foundations are being laid for their future development. The UK government should lift the two-child limit to help all children thrive.’

CPAG’s analysis also indicates that across the UK 1.8 million children are likely to be affected by the two child limit by 2023. Of these one million will already be living below the poverty line, and will be pushed deeper into poverty by the policy.

A further 300,000 will be pushed into poverty by the two-child limit.

These facts and figures show the reality of child poverty in the UK.

  • There were 4.1 million children living in poverty in the UK in 2017-18. That’s 30 per cent of children, or nine in a classroom of 30.1
  • There are expected to be 5.2 million children living in poverty in the UK by 2022.2
  • 47% of children living in lone-parent families are in poverty. Lone parents face a higher risk of poverty due to the lack of an additional earner, low rates of maintenance payments, gender inequality in employment and pay, and childcare costs.
  • Children from Black and minority ethnic groups are more likely to be in poverty: 45 per cent are now in poverty, compared with 26 per cent of children in White British families.
  • London has the highest rate of child poverty in the country. You can see local child poverty rates on the End Child Poverty website.
  • Child poverty reduced dramatically between 1998 and 2012 when 800,000 children were lifted out of poverty.
  • Work does not provide a guaranteed route out of poverty in the UK. 70 per cent of children growing up in poverty live in a household where at least one person works.
  • Children in large families are at a far greater risk of living in poverty – 43 per cent of children living in families with three or more children live in poverty.
  • Childcare and housing are two of the costs that take the biggest toll on families’ budgets. When you account for childcare costs, an extra 130,000 children are pushed into poverty.

Greg Beales, the campaigns director at homeless charity Shelter, insisted in conclusion: ‘No child should have to grow up without a safe place to call home, but this is increasingly the devastating outcome as more parents are plunged into crisis by expensive private rents, severe welfare cuts and a chronic lack of social homes.

‘The impact homelessness has on children cannot be overstated.

‘We’ve seen through our services and in countless research reports that children’s social wellbeing and mental health often suffers, with many feeling ashamed or becoming anxious and withdrawn.

‘During term time, we also know children can really struggle at school.

‘Teachers have reported children turning up unprepared, falling asleep in class and behind with their work.

‘Having a stable home is a fundamental human need, and it should be part of every childhood.

‘That’s why we’ll be relentless in urging the new prime minister to deliver 3.1m more social homes over the next 20 years.

‘And in the meantime, we will continue to fight for housing benefit to be unfrozen and increased to at least cover the basic cost of private rents.’