A PRIVATE MEMBER’S BILL brought by the Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, to abolish the two-child limit on Universal Credit has completed its passage through the House of Lords. The Bill had its third reading on 24 March and will now be considered in the House of Commons. 

The Bill would amend previous legislation which limits the number of children counted when calculating benefit payments to a household. The limit restricts means-tested benefits to the first two children in a family if they were born after April 2017.

Opening the debate, Bishop Paul told the House that while the policy, introduced six years ago, may have been intended to help families and create a level playing field, the effect had been the reverse.

“It has indeed made a difference to those children’s lives, though regrettably not the one that was intended”, he said. “While the policy aimed to address the root causes of poverty, the two-child limit has instead become the greatest contributor to driving children into poverty. It impacts an estimated 1.3 million children, disproportionately affecting children of certain religions and ethnic minority backgrounds.”

He added: “Through removing the two-child limit, each and every child will be valued. Children will no longer be reduced to a number, but be seen as individuals with worth and potential. I hope that, ultimately, this Bill will mark one step towards making child poverty in this country a matter for the history books.”

A report by Barnardo’s published this month recommended that the two child limit should be removed. Child Poverty Action Group also produced a report detailing the cost of child poverty to the UK.

* Read the Barnardo’s report A crisis on our doorstep: The deepening impact of the cost-of-living crisis on children and young people in the UK here.

* Read the Child Poverty Action Group report, The Cost of Child Poverty in 2023 here.

* Source: Church of England