A damning study claims parents have cut back on fresh food, pulled kids from swimming lessons and even considered abortion over the Universal Credit policy
Parents are cutting back on fresh food for their children thanks to the cruel two-child benefits limit, a damning study says today.
Others have withdrawn children from swimming lessons and school trips or been unable to cover gas and electric bills, the report declares.
“Several” women told researchers they even considered abortions to avoid being left without enough to live on.
The ‘two-child’ limit stops parents claiming Tax Credits or Universal Creditfor more than two children – a cut of up to £2,780 per child – if the kids are born after April 2017.
It cut benefits for 70,000 families in its first year.
By 2023/24 it will hit 1.8million children, including siblings who do get benefits, according to new predictions by the IPPR think tank.
IPPR added a million children already in poverty will be pushed further below the poverty line due to the two-child limit by 2023/24.
The online survey of 438 families hit by the policy, between February and June 2019, was published by the Child Poverty Action Group charity and the Church of England.
‘Janet’, a mum-of-three pregnant with her fourth child, said: “I did try and go for a termination and I just couldn’t do it.”
She added: “We’re in turmoil now thinking how are we gonna cope. It’s a constant worry, you’re constantly writing stuff down and checking how much money you’ve got.”
A second mum, ‘Katy’, decided to keep her baby because she felt it wrong to have an abortion for financial reasons.
She said: “I know some people – I know it’s not nice – but they would not keep their baby then. I wouldn’t do that. I’d make things work.”
A third mum told the study she would not have had an abortion, but “even if I was to look for one I couldn’t afford it” because she lives in Northern Ireland.
88% of families who replied to today’s survey said the two-child limit had affected their ability to pay for food.
One mum-of-four whose husband works full-time, ‘Lisa’, said: “I would have liked to get them fruit.
“I can’t remember the last time I made a fresh dinner, it’s all stuff I’ve got in my freezer.”
Another anonymous parent said: “I can’t afford the full rent if I put gas and electric on. Food is a minimum.”
A third parent, ‘Paula’, said: “Both kids have stopped their swimming lessons, we can’t afford it.
“Amy has had to finish her football and Corey his basketball… she was at football six days a week and she misses it a lot.”
Names have been changed.
Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd has already cancelled a planned extension of the policy to children born before April 2017.
But charity and church chiefs today called on her to go further and scrap it.
CPAG chief executive Alison Garnham said: “We wouldn’t turn away a sick child from our hospitals or stop them going to school.
“And yet the two-child limit denies families the support they need from our social security system when they experience tough times, trapping kids in poverty.
“We need to help children thrive, by supporting parents to raise happy, healthy children, especially during the first years of a child’s life, when foundations are laid for their future development.
“It’s right to support families when they need it most. Our government should lift the two-child limit and help all children to thrive.”
The Rt Rev Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, added: “We believe that children are a blessing, not a burden, and that a third or fourth child is no less precious than the first or second.
“The Government’s two-child limit goes against this fundamental principle and is pushing many families and children into poverty.
“It is simply not right that some children get support and others don’t.
“The two-child limit must be lifted as part of a concerted effort to reverse the rise in child poverty.”
A Government spokeswoman said: “This policy helps to ensure fairness by asking parents receiving benefits to face the same financial choices as those in work.
“Safeguards are in place and we’ve made changes this year to make the policy fairer.
“Tackling poverty remains a priority – we’re spending £95 billion a year on welfare and providing free school meals to more than a million children.
“We’re supporting families to improve their lives through employment and latest figures show there are 667,000 fewer children living in workless households since 2010.”