Nearly 1.6million youngsters affected by ‘merciless’ two-child profit restrict, DWP says

More than 1.5million children were affected by the controversial two-child benefit limit this year, damning new figures show.

The data piles pressure on the government to scrap the policy. It comes as Keir Starmer faces the prospect of his first Commons rebellion over the issue – with left-wing MPs threatening an attempt to force a vote on scrapping the cap.

Today’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) figures show there were 1.3 million children living in a Universal Credit household and 270,000 children living in a Child Tax Credit household – a total of almost 1.6 million children – affected by the Tory policy.

Campaigners have branded it “cruel” and said it needs to be abolished. But the new PM resisted calls to scrap the Tory austerity-era measure during the General Election campaign, saying he would not make “unfunded” spending commitments.

The party’s manifesto promised an “ambitious strategy to reduce child poverty” but made no mention of the controversial policy – one of the most severe cuts to welfare under the Tories. Charity Save The Children said it is an “outrage” that so many youngsters are affected and called for immediate action.

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Keir Starmer faces a Labour rebellion over the benefit shakeup

Keir Starmer faces a Labour rebellion over the benefit shakeup
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On Wednesday the former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell told The Mirror it was “inevitable” the PM would have to “concede” on the issue. He also warned he would table an amendment to the King’s Speech next week if the new Labour administration failed to shift its stance.

DWP data shows that in April this year there were 380,000 Universal Credit households that had a third or subsequent child born on or after April 6 2017, and 71,000 Child Tax Credits households. This means a total of 450,000 households are impacted.

Introduced by the Conservative Chancellor George Osborne the policy restricts most low-income families to claiming Universal Credit and child tax credit for their first two children. It is estimated hundreds of thousands of children could be lifted out of poverty if the two-child benefit limit is axed.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Suella Braverman and Nigel Farage are among the unlikely names in agreement that the cap needs to be abolished.

Paul Carberry, chief executive of Action for Children, said: “Today’s figures confirm the relentless expansion of this cruel policy, which creates and entrenches child poverty. Its impact is devastating for our country’s poorest parents who are trying their absolute hardest to make ends meet, denying them much-needed income to buy the basics for their children.

“Child poverty puts enormous pressure on public services and makes it much more difficult for those children to fulfil their potential. Ultimately, the cost of the two-child limit is far greater than the money it saves. The new government must urgently bring forward its child poverty strategy as promised in its manifesto. This must include scrapping the two-child limit.”

Becca Lyon, head of UK child poverty at Save the Children, said: “It is an outrage that 440,000 families are denied vital support because of the unfair two-child limit, a rise of over 30,000 since last year. More and more children will suffer every year just because they have siblings, unless the UK Government acts now.

“The cruel two-child limit should be scrapped immediately to prevent families from facing hardship and destitution.”

Asked how he plans to tackle the scourge of child poverty, Mr Starmer told The Mirror last week: “There will be a strategy in place, as we did have under the last Labour government, to drive down child poverty. Nobody wants to see any child poverty.

“We got the numbers right down under the last Labour government. There are things that we can do straight away when it comes to the cost of living crisis, which is bearing down on families. Obviously, we’ve got the breakfast clubs that we need to set up in our schools.”

He went on to say he’d spoken to a primary school teacher earlier in the day who had to provide food to a number of kids who arrive hungry. Mr Starmer said: “There was a primary school teacher there explaining that he has to provide food to his children, a number of his children, when they arrive at school because they haven’t got enough food, to get through the day.

“We can start to change, some of that. Housing is a massive driver of child poverty. So that’s why we need to get those houses built. There are many strands to this that we will be starting on straight away, because I’m determined that we will work as hard as the last Labour government when it comes to driving down child poverty.”