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8 April, 2021 Open access

Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted ‘flawed rationale’ behind two-child limit

New report from CPAG highlights how policy has removed safety net that social security should provide when crisis hits

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the 'flawed rationale' behind the two-child limit, the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has said.

In a new report with the Church of England and the Welfare Reform and Larger Families research project, CPAG estimates that in April 2021, four years after the two-child policy was introduced, at least 350,000 families and 1.25 million children have been affected by it, up from 243,000 families and around 900,000 children in April 2020.

Although Covid-19 has played a role in the increases, CPAG points out that crises such as job losses, ill health and relationship breakdown inevitably hit individual households all the time and could affect anyone, and the pandemic has merely highlighted that the rationale behind the two-child limit - that parents who receive benefits should make the same financial choices about having children as those supporting themselves solely through work - is flawed - 

'A primary function of social security is to provide support to us when a crisis hits. It helps us recover and shields children from the worst impacts while we get back on our feet. But, the two-child limit removes this safety net, penalising families and their children for changes in circumstances that are beyond their control.'

The report, “It feels as though my third child doesn’t matter” - The impact of the two-child limit after four years, which draws on an ongoing survey of families affected by the two-child limit, goes on to set out some of the impacts of the policy over the last four years, including - 

Highlighting that, if the two-child limit were removed today, 200,000 children would immediately be lifted out of poverty and 600,000 children would be living in less deep poverty, at a cost of only £1 billion, the report concludes - 

'Our social security system should be there to support families through tough times. Two-thirds of the UK population now agree that the two-child limit should be suspended or lifted altogether. It is time for the government to lift the two-child limit and help all children thrive.'

For more information, see It feels as though my child doesn't matter from cpag.org.uk