Churches condemn Government’s new two-child limit as "deliberately ignoring" needs of some of the UK’s poorest children


From Thursday 6th April the Government's flagshipbenefit, Universal Credit, will not offer help to the third orsubsequent children in a family. This fundamentally changes thebenefit system so that it "deliberately ignores" the needs of someof the UK's more vulnerable children say Churchleaders.


  • Over the next three years around 640,000 families containing atleast two million children[1] will seesubstantially lower Universal Credit payments
  • From November 2018 the two-child limit will also be appliedretrospectively. The needs of the third child born long before thetwo-child limit was thought of will also be ignored.


Rachel Lampard, Vice-President of the Methodist Conference,said: "The two-child rule takes a knife to the social securitysafety net and hundreds of thousands of the UK's most vulnerablechildren will fall through the gap created. These cuts are thedriving force behind the expected increases in child poverty overthe next decade. The consequences for these children will last fora life-time."


The Revd Dr Richard Frazer, Convener of the Church & SocietyCouncil, commented: "From Thursday payments under UniversalCredit will deliberately ignore the needs of some of the UK'spoorest children. The Government's flagship benefit will not offerhelp to the third or further children in a family.

"How can a decent society look at an impoverished child - andthen ignore their needs?"                                   

Both the Government's impact assessment[2] andDepartment of Work and Pensions (DWP) research make it clear thatthe two child limit is not expected to achieve its aim of reducingthe number of children born to poorer families needing the supportof the benefit system[3].

"We should be appalled that children's needs are beingdeliberately ignored, no matter what the justification. It isextraordinary that the Government has pressed ahead with this cutdespite the fact that its own research says that it is not likelyto achieve its aim of encouraging families to have fewerchildren," said Grace Pengelly, Secretary for Church andSociety, United Reformed Church.


YouGov polling in October 2015 indicatedthat the majority (61%) of UK adults believe benefits should behigh enough to cover families' basic costs.                

Speaking on the statistics, the Revd Stephen Keyworth, of theBaptist Union of Great Britain, added: "This policy flies inthe face of one of our benefit system's founding principles - thatfamilies should have enough to meet their basic needs. Our churchesbelieve this principle is important and polling indicates that thepublic believe this principle to be important too.

"The two-child limit recognises that largerfamilies have additional needs, but chooses to ignore them. We urgethe Government, even at this late stage, to hold to the foundingprinciples of the benefit system and not deliberately ignore theneeds of the most vulnerable children insociety."



The Joint Public IssuesTeam combines the expertise of the BaptistUnion, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church and the UnitedReformed Church in the area of public issues, representing morethan 800,000 people in the UK

In November 2015 the Joint Public Issues Team alongsideChurch Action on Poverty published the report "Enough" to outline theiropposition to rules, such as the 2-child rule, which recognisefamily's basic needs but deliberately refuse to meetthem.

Paul Morrison, Joint Churches Policy Advisor is availablefor interview. To arrange an interview, please contact:  fairclought@methodistchurch.org.uk / 020 74675208


[1]   The two-child rule reduces maximum entitlementby £2,780 other changes on April 6th raise this to a £3,670 totalloss https://www.churchofengland.org/media/2400405/joint_faith_group_briefing_on_two-child_limit_final.pdf 
[2]   Welfare Reform and Work Bill: Impact Assessmentof Tax Credits and Universal Credit, changes to Child Element andFamily Element http://www.parliament.uk/documents/impact-assessments/ia15-006e.pdf
[3]    DWP review of the effects of welfarepolicies on fertility, concluding "On balance the reviewedliterature shows that there is no consistent and robust evidence tosupport claims that the welfare system has a significant impactupon family structure." http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130314010347/http:/research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd5/rports2009-2010/rrep569.pdf