DWP urged to scrap 'crude and unrealistic' two-child limit on benefit payments

Posted On: 
3rd November 2019

Ministers must end the two-child cap on welfare payments which is having “serious and unintended consequences” on families, MPs have warned.

MPs said the logic behind the policy was "crude and unrealistic".

The Commons’ Work and Pensions Committee blasted the controversial policy, which restricts Government support to families on benefits such as Universal Credit to two children - and warned it could be making child poverty worse.

Frank Field, chair of the committee, said: “Any family in this country, except the super-rich, could fall foul of the two-child limit if their circumstances changed for the worse. 

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"This is exactly why social security must act as a national insurance scheme covering people when they’re most exposed to hardship – not increase it.”

The two-child limit was introduced by former Chancellor George Osborne and came into force in 2017.

It curbs access to child tax credits and other means-tested benefits for any further children born after April 2017. 

But the committee said it had seen “no evidence that the two-child limit is working in the way the Government hoped for” after speaking to experts for its inquiry.

The MPs also warned that Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Northern Irish, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller and Muslim and Jewish families are being hit harder by the two-child cap.

Survivors of rape and domestic abuse were also flagged as likely to face a disproportionate burden through the policy. 

The MPs said: "The Government must return to providing support for all children through the benefits system. 

“This would involve the reversal of a major policy, which is not something that we would recommend without serious consideration. 

"But the two-child limit not only fails to achieve the Government’s own objectives, but has unintended consequences that no Government should be willing to accept."

The call came as the Government announced it will end the working-age benefits freeze next April, meaning benefits such as Jobseekers’ Allowance will rise with inflation for the first time since 2015.