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"It's heart-breaking that I feel I cannot fully provide for my youngest without struggling": The impact of five years of the two-child limit policy

Published April 6, 2022

This joint report by CPAG, the Church of England and the Benefit Changes & Larger Families research project presents new estimates of the number of families affected by the two-child limit, and provides an insight into the impact of the policy using direct quotes from a survey of over 2,500 families affected by it.

Under the two-child limit, parents are not entitled to any extra support through universal credit or child tax credit to help with raising a third or subsequent child born after 6 April 2017. This means they lose out on up to £2,935 a year, and puts families’ budgets under enormous strain.

Five years after the introduction of the two-child limit, an estimated 1.4 million children in 400,000 families are now affected by the policy. Unless it is abolished, the number of children affected will reach 3 million, as more children are born under the policy.

Families can grow and circumstances can change for many different reasons. But regardless of each family’s situation, it is children who are ultimately paying the price for this policy. They are returning from school to cold homes, and missing out on key parts of childhood such as sports activities and school trips, while parents are skipping meals so their children can eat.

As inflation now pushes a thirty year high and energy bills soar by 54 per cent, the gap between what affected families need to get by and what they receive will widen even further. More parents will face extremely difficult choices as their families are pushed deeper into poverty.

Our social security system should support families and give children the best start in life, regardless of how many siblings they have. The government must remove the two-child limit to allow all children to thrive.

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