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20 July, 2021 Open access

Social Mobility Commission calls for government to scrap two-child limit and increase benefit payments for children

Recommendation among a range of benefit reforms designed to put children at ‘centre stage’ of the government's Covid recovery programme

The Social Mobility Commission (SMC) has called for the UK Government to scrap the two-child limit and increase benefit payments for children.

In its State of the nation report 2021, published today, the SMC highlights that every critical measure of low social mobility - child poverty, income inequality, access to stable housing, unemployment for young people and gaps in school attainment - was poor in 2019, and that Covid-19 is threatening to make each of them worse.

Looking to the country’s future recovery from the pandemic, the report identifies the most important levers to boost social mobility, including a particular focus on increasing incomes of poorer families, which the SMC argues have suffered most during the pandemic and therefore should be helped first. To achieve this, the report includes a recommendation for a £14 billion package of measures to lift 1.5 million children out of poverty - around a third of the 4.3 million children in poverty as at March 2020 - and help many more move out of deep poverty.

Key among these measures are -

In addition, the SMC calls for the UK Government to design and implement a poverty reduction strategy for England and its regions, mirroring work that has already taken place in the other nations in the United Kingdom. The strategy should also ensure that progress is measured using relative poverty after housing costs as the benchmark, the SMC says.

Interim Co-Chair of the SMC Sandra Wallace said today -

‘Now is the time to take action and we must not shy away from difficult decisions. Now is the moment to level up opportunities for children across the country. Ending child poverty and investing significantly in education are two of the most impactful and influential things the UK government can do to improve social mobility.’

Steven Cooper, interim Co-Chair of the SMC added -

‘A recovery programme presents a chance to put social mobility at the top of the agenda, but it will have to be a group effort. It will require commitment from government, employers, educators and local leaders to ensure young people have greater access to opportunities from school to employment.’

For more information, see SMC calls for children to be put centre stage of pandemic recovery from gov.uk