Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

‘A clear breach of children’s human rights’: Should the UK Government ditch controversial two-child limit on benefits?

Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People Bruce Adamson
Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People Bruce Adamson

The Children’s Commissioners of the devolved nations have come together to demand a change to the two-child limit on benefits.

They say the restriction on Universal Credit and Child Tax Credits for bigger families is “a clear breach of children’s human rights”. They also claim the policy is contributing to a rising gap in poverty levels between large and small families.

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey

In an open letter to Therese Coffey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the commissioners say the policy clashes with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The children’s tsars, including Scotland’s Children and Young People’s Commissioner Bruce Adamson, call for an end to the two-child limit on the benefits.

Parliamentary committee

Mr Adamson will tell a parliamentary committee this week that UK benefits rules are restricting the efforts of the devolved governments to tackle child poverty.

The policy has always been a controversial one.

Mr Adamson said: “With more than a quarter of a million children affected, poverty is the most significant human rights issue facing children in Scotland.

“Living in poverty affects every aspect of a child’s life, including their educational attainment and mental and physical health.

“ The UK’s approach to poverty was examined in 2019 by the United Nations’ top expert on poverty and human rights who highlighted that it is political decisions by government that are leading to disastrous levels of poverty.

“Now after over a year of the Covid-19 pandemic, the situation for children in Scotland has become much worse.”

‘Discriminatory policy’

In their letter, the commissioners also note that the policy also has disproportionate impacts on social groups where larger families are more common. This can be among some minority faith and ethnic groups and in Northern Ireland where families are larger than the rest of the UK.

Mr Adamson added: “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.”

‘There are careful exemptions and safeguards in place’

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.”

POLL: Do you think the two-child cap should be lifted?

How does it work at the moment?

Welfare reforms in the past few years mean families claiming Universal Credit no longer receive any additional cash for third or subsequent children born on or after April 6, 2017.

Someone already claiming Universal Credit with two children who then gives birth to a new child will not get any more money.

There are exceptions, including multiple births, adoption and formal and informal care arrangements.

Disabled children still receive additional support and families might also qualify for childcare help.

Read more from Schools and Family here

Already a subscriber? Sign in