Two-child limit announcement


The Government is expected to announce a partial rollback on the two-child limit – the policy which restricts Child Tax Credits and the child element of Universal Credit to two children.

The two-child limit is already in place for people on Child Tax Credit and people already getting Universal Credit who have a third or subsequent child on or after 6 April 2017. On 1 February 2019 the DWP were going to accept new claims for Universal Credit for people with three or more children, and apply the two-child limit, regardless of when children were born. However, the Work and Pensions Secretary, Amber Rudd, is expected to announce that the two child limit will not apply to Universal Credit if the third or subsequent child was born before 6 April 2017.

This will mean that any child born on or after the 6 April 2017 will still be subject to the two-child limit.

Struggling with the two-child limit

New research from Turn2us has revealed that 23% of parents who are affected by the Two-child Limit now struggle to pay their basic living costs.

Of families affected by the Two-child Limit who are struggling with basic living costs:

  • 72% said it affected their ability to pay for food
  • 47% said it affected their ability to pay bills
  • 40% said it affected their ability to pay rent
  • 34% said it affected their ability to pay childcare

We have also found that the policy is not just affecting families financially, but also having a serious impact on their mental and physical wellbeing.

One parent told us: “I am currently pregnant with third child after contraception failure and having to consider termination”.

Another said: “My third pregnancy wasn’t planned but I was too far gone before I knew I was pregnant to even think about other options (abortion). I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford my third child because of this policy”.

One mother we spoke to was financially stable when she had her third child, she said: “We chose to have our third child while we were both working full time in permanent professional jobs… However my husband suddenly lost his job… We are now in a situation where we cannot pay all bills and feed our family”.

Jamie Grier, Director of Development at Turn2us, said:

“Turn2us welcomes the government’s decision not to apply the Two-child Limit retrospectively to children born before the limit was announced as in these cases families were most definitely not able to take it into account when thinking about having another child. But we believe the government should go further and review the justification and impact of the entire policy.”

“The welfare of children should be paramount. However, the unfortunate consequences of the Two-child Limit are that many children are actually being pushed into poverty.

“Not only are we seeing families being hit hard financially, but in extreme cases some are also considering terminating pregnancies, due to this policy.

“Circumstances change and for many people having a third child isn’t a clear cut choice, or it is a choice they have made when they are better off and not in need of welfare support.”

“This policy has hit people on low incomes hardest, and as we have said before, no child, first or third, from any background, is worth more or less than another.”