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by Louise Wilson
26 May 2021
Two-child benefit cap breaches children’s rights, warn commissioners

David Anderson/Holyrood

Two-child benefit cap breaches children’s rights, warn commissioners

The UK Government’s two-child cap on benefits must be scrapped, three of the UK’s four children’s commissioners have said.

The commissioners for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland warn the policy is a breach of children’s rights by failling to provide an adequate standard of living.

In a joint letter to the UK's work and pensions secretary, Thérèse Coffey, the trio said ending the policy would be a “significant step” to reduce child poverty.

They wrote: “With the focus in the Queen’s speech in May 2021 on ‘levelling up’, there can be no excuse for continuing to breach children’s rights through this discriminatory policy that will continue to harm children and families and prevent them from moving beyond the impact of the global pandemic.”

The two-child limit was introduced for third or subsequent children born after 6 April 2017.

It was designed to cut £1bn from the UK’s social security bill.

But it has been subject to criticism since its introduction from opposition parties and the third sector, with the Child Poverty Action Group estimating 1.25 million children across the UK had been affected by the policy.

Bruce Adamson, Scotland’s children and young people’s commissioner, will appear before the Work and Pensions Committee at Westminster this morning to discuss child poverty and the pandemic.

He has warned the pandemic has exacerbated the problem despite action being taken by the various devolved governments.

He said: “The Scottish Government has taken some action to reduce the number of children in poverty including rolling out the Scottish Child Payment during the pandemic, however I remain concerned that children’s rights are continuing to be breached in Scotland by the two-child limit on child tax credit and universal credit. That is why we have taken the step of writing to the UK Government to urge that this policy is reversed. 

“We will continue to hold our devolved governments to account in relation to their obligations to respect, protect and fulfil children’s rights, but these governments can only go so far in their efforts to ensure children and their families get the support they are entitled to while this discriminatory policy also remains in force at a UK level.” 

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