Social Justice

DWP shamed over 'cruel' two-child benefit cap as millions trapped in poverty: 'Scrap this sibling tax'

The two child limit on benefits has been criticised as a 'cruel' policy which traps children in poverty, although the government does not agree

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been handed a giant birthday card to mark seven years of the “cruel” two-child benefit limit.

Families claiming benefits who have a third or subsequent child after April 2017 are denied up to £3,235 per year per child compared with families whose kids were born sooner.

Around 1.5 million children live in families whose benefits are reduced by the two-child limit, according to the End Child Poverty Coalition. That is one in every 10 children.

Shockingly, 2,590 women had to disclose that they were raped to get an exemption to this policy last year.

Rosie, a mother of three children who is impacted by the two-child limit to benefit payments, said: “My third child is about to turn seven years old. He is as old as this policy, one of the first children to be born who was impacted by this. And for all of his life, for seven whole years, it feels as if he is invisible to those who make decisions about benefit payments.”

The government has previously ruled out any connection between the two-child limit and child poverty.

But nearly half (46%) of children living in families with three or more children are living in poverty, according to the coalition, compared with 22% of children who have no siblings.

A child at the End Child Poverty Coalition stunt. Image: End Child Poverty Coalition

Every UK constituency is now home to families impacted by this policy. In some constituencies, as many as three in 10 children live in a household which is affected by this limit.

The End Child Poverty Coalition held a stunt outside the DWP in London on Friday (5 April) to mark the “unhappy anniversary”. A giant card was presented by charity representatives, parents, youth activists and children.

Joseph Howes, chief executive of Buttle UK and chair of the End Child Poverty Coalition said: “It is sad to think that the cruel two-child limit has now been in place for seven years. That is seven years of families living in poverty as a result.

“Many families could have planned to support more than two children through work alone, but may have then suffered a family break up, death of a partner, losing a job and the cost-of-living crisis – and are no longer able to. Sadly, our benefits system is not set up to catch these families when they fall.

“In this election year political parties can no longer ignore the harm this policy causes, and must commit to scrapping this sibling tax.”

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