The End Child Poverty Coalition, with support from over 50 organisations including Caritas Social Action Network, has launched a campaign intensifying our earlier calls on the Government, to remove a cap on tax credits and Universal Credit for families with more than two children.
The two-child limit was announced at the Summer Budget in 2015 and introduced on 6 April 2017. Families no longer receive Child Tax Credit or universal credit for any third or subsequent children born on or after that date (with exceptions for multiple births, adopted children, children in kinship care arrangements and children born as a result of non-consensual conception). It was due to be applied retrospectively to all new Universal Credit claimants from February 2019, regardless of the age of the children, but this was cancelled in January 2019.
The government has taken the line that people on benefits face the same financial choices about whether to have more children as those supporting themselves solely through work.
CSAN considers the policy is at variance with the principle that every child is of equal dignity. We recall the Holy See’s Charter of the Rights of the Family (1983): ‘The activities of public authorities and private organizations which attempt in any way to limit the freedom of couples in deciding about their children constitute a grave offence against human dignity and justice.’ The policy contradicts successive governments’ commitments to give all children the best possible start in life. We consider that removing the two-child limit would be consistent with honouring these commitments.
The coalition argues that the policy will lead to a significant rise in child poverty, and breaks the link between what low-income families need and what they receive in support, by directly targeting children. It is expected to tip 300,000 more children into poverty by 2023/24, and push many more children even deeper into poverty. The majority of affected families are low-income working families with three or four children, including a child under two years of age.
For more information, please see the dedicated campaign website of the Child Poverty Action Group.