Tories accused of ‘cementing poverty’ as Rishi Sunak confirms two-child benefit cap will stay if they win the next election

The Prime Minister confirmed the policy would stay if he won the election

The Conservatives have been accused of “cementing poverty” after Rishi Sunak confirmed the two-child benefit cap will stay if his party wins the next general election.

Charities have called for the abolition of the cap, which restricts Universal Credit support to two children in a family, pointing to record levels of child poverty in the UK.

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The SNP have now labelled the decision “heinous”, and said it delivers a “kick in the teeth” to the poorest families.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed the two-child benefit cap would stay if he remained in Downing Street.Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed the two-child benefit cap would stay if he remained in Downing Street.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed the two-child benefit cap would stay if he remained in Downing Street.

Writing in The Sun On Sunday, Rishi Sunak committed his party to keeping the policy.

He said: “Working families do not see their incomes rise when they have more children. Families on benefits should be asked to make the same financial decisions as those supporting themselves solely through work.”

The commitment follows Mr Sunak’s speech on Friday in which he set out reforms of the welfare system to reduce the number of people receiving benefits and bring spending down.

The number of people claiming at least one health-related benefit has soared since the pandemic, with one in 10 people now receiving support, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

In his article, the Prime Minister said: “There is nothing compassionate about consigning people who could work to a life trapped on benefits.

“We will change the system so that we are giving people a hand up rather than a hand-out.”

The SNP's Alison Thewliss MP labelled the decision “heinous”. She said: “For almost a decade, the two child cap has caused so much unnecessary suffering for children and families across the UK - all to satisfy the Tories’ careless ideological austerity obsession."It is heinous that the Tories are committed to the two child cap in their general election manifesto - this promise will cement poverty and inequalities in our communities for decades to come."The SNP Scottish Government is doing everything it can to prevent families in Scotland from falling into poverty. It has spent over £1 billion protecting Scottish households from the impacts of 13 years of Tory austerity and policies including the Scottish Child Payment have helped to lift 100,000 children out of poverty in Scotland”.

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Campaigners also criticised Mr Sunak for using “hostile rhetoric” and launching a “full-on assault on disabled people”.

Responding to Mr Sunak’s commitment to the two-child cap, Child Poverty Action Group chief executive Alison Garnham said: “With child poverty at a record high, the Prime Minister has now clearly decided that making kids poor is his political priority.

“After Covid and the cost-of-living crisis, struggling families need a helping hand not another kick in the teeth.

“The two-child limit makes life harder for kids, punishing them for having brothers and sisters. It’s time to scrap this nasty policy.”

Last week also saw the launch of a campaign to lift a million children out of poverty by 2030, backed by human rights lawyer Cherie Blair and former children’s commissioner Anne Longfield.

Scrapping the two-child benefit cap features among the campaign’s demands, a policy supported by the current children’s commissioner Dame Rachel de Souza.

Official statistics published in March showed child poverty hit record highs last year, with 4.33 million children living in households in relative low income in the year to March 2023.