Children’s commissioners claim two child benefit rule ‘clear breach of human rights’
The children’s Commissioners of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have written to the UK Government urging them to end the “discriminatory” two-child limit on benefits.
The change brought in by former Chancellor George Osborne only allows child benefit for third or subsequent children when their mothers have reported that the pregnancy was a result of sexual violence.
Wales’ Children’s Commissioner Sally Holland as well as her Scottish and Northern Irish counterparts Bruce Adamson and Koulla Yiasouma said the policy had a disproportionate impact on some minority faith and ethnic communities, where larger families are more common, as well as in Northern Ireland, where families tend to be larger than the rest of the UK.
They added that the policy breaches youngsters’ right to an adequate standard of living and is contributing to a rising gap in poverty levels between families with three or more children and smaller households.
The letter states: “Various party manifestos in both the Scottish and Welsh Parliament elections indicate steps that will be taken in the devolved nations towards tackling child poverty, and work has commenced on developing a population-wide anti-poverty strategy in Northern Ireland as part of the New Decade New Approach deal.
“However, we cannot ignore the fact that any such steps are ultimately undermined by the continuation of the harmful two-child limit on child tax credit and universal credit payments at a UK Government level.”
It goes on: “Children should not be penalised for actions beyond their control.”
The letter was published ahead of today’s session of the UK Parliament’s Work and Pensions Committee today, which will be addressed by Bruce Adamson.
Responding, a UK Government spokesman said: “We are committed to supporting families that are most in need and the latest figures show that the percentage of children in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland living in absolute poverty has actually fallen since 2010.
“Four out of five households across the UK have two or fewer children, and this policy ensures fairness by asking families in receipt of benefits to make the same financial choices as people who support themselves solely through work.
“There are also careful exemptions and safeguards in place to protect people in the most vulnerable circumstances.”