Keir Starmer rejects Gordon Brown’s plea to scrap the two-child profit restrict

Keir Starmer has rejected Gordon Brown’s plea to scrap the two-child benefit limit.

Speaking at a Q&A after a speech in Essex, the Labour leader said he could not commit to scrapping the Tory policy despite people in his own party having branded it “heinous”.

The Mirror asked Mr Starmer: “Gordon Brown yesterday called for the two-child benefit limit to be scrapped and warned that the UK is heading for the worst child poverty figures in living memory. Where does ending child poverty sit in your list of priorities and will you rethink your position on the two-child limit?”

He said: “Ending child poverty is central… If we’re privileged enough to come in to serve, we will put a strategy in place for it.” But on the two-child benefit cap, he said: “What I can’t do is make promises that I can’t deliver.”

Mr Starmer said it was “tough” not to commit to the policy, adding: “The easy thing is just to pretend we can deliver it all, a nice big wheelbarrow of things we can deliver. But if we can’t deliver it I’m not going to say it because I think that’s the stable foundation we need in politics now.”

Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group Alison Garnham said: “It’s good to hear that ending child poverty is central for Labour, but the best way to achieve that is by ending the two-child limit on benefits which is driving so many children into hardship. A child poverty reduction plan is essential, but scrapping the two-child limit would have to be step one.”

The two-child benefit rule was introduced by austerity Chancellor George Osborne back in 2017 and is estimated to save the Treasury around £2.5billion in the current financial year. Under the policy families with a third or subsequent child born from April 2017 claiming benefits can no longer receive additional amounts for these children.

Speaking on the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Brown on Wednesday said the two-child benefit limit was misunderstood and should be “scrapped”. “It’s not the third or the fourth child who is the only child that loses out. It’s every child because the average loss per family is about £60-per-week. A family on low pay or who is struggling can’t afford to lose £60-per-week,” he said.

He went on: “We have got to re-think that. I’m really focusing on the September financial statement by the Chancellor because this is an urgent problem. I think you should make this part of a review that has to include for example the bedroom tax, the benefit cap, the housing benefit limit, all these changes that have been introduced”.