Keir Starmer Says Labour Will Keep The Tory Two-Child Benefits Cap

The Labour leader says the rule would be kept in place, despite having been condemned as "heinous" by his shadow work and pensions secretary.
Keir Starmer
Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer has said he would keep the Conservative government’s controversial two-child cap on benefits if Labour win the election.

The announcement is likely to anger many within his own party as the policy has been condemned for “pushing families into deep poverty”.

Under the cap, parents are not able to claim child tax credit or universal credit for any third or subsequent child born after April 2017.

It was designed to try and force parents of larger families to fin new jobs or work more hours.

The policy was described just last month by Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Jon Ashworth as “heinous”.

In February 2020, Starmer said in a tweet he wanted to “scrap” it in order to “tackle the vast social injustice in our country”.

Speaking to the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme this morning, the Labour leader was asked if the cap would be removed.

But Starmer said: “We are not changing that policy.”

Later in the interview he said that “of course” it was worth him angering people on the left of Labour if it was necessary to win the election.

“The Labour Party was created to give working people not just representation in parliament but a government in parliament that can govern on their behalf and change the lives of millions of people for the better,” he said.

“I have been changing the Labour Party to put us in a position where we are now credible contenders for the next election.”

The Child Poverty Action Group (Cpag) has warned the cap is “pushing families into deep poverty”.

According to the charity, it affects 1.5 million children including 1.1 million children growing up in poverty, with their families are missing out on up to £3,235 a year.

“The impact of growing up in poverty can be lifelong,” it warned. “Abolishing the two-child limit is the most cost-effective way of reducing child poverty.

Cpag said scrapping it - at a cost of £1.3bn - would lift 250,000 children out of poverty, and a further 850,000 children would be in less deep poverty.

In an interview with the Daily Mirror on June 3, Ashworth said the cap was “absolutely keeping children in poverty”.

“At this stage we are not outlining our full universal credit reform policy but we are certainly determined to tackle child poverty,” he said.

“We are very, very aware that this is one of the single most heinous elements of the system which is pushing children and families into poverty today.”

During a debate in parliament last week, Labour MP Kim Johnson joined with many Labour MPs to call for Starmer to commit to ditching the cap.

“We need to end this horrendous two-child policy and ensure all children have the opportunity to thrive and grow and not live in poverty,” she said.

“The cap has done immeasurable damage to so many families in this country, impacting poverty and driving more families into poverty.”

Humza Yousaf, the Scottish first minister, said: “Poverty experts say scrapping the two-child limit would lift up to 15,000 children in Scotland out of poverty.

“Why on earth is Starmer committed to keeping this cruel Tory policy? Only the SNP offer real change and the chance to escape Westminster control with independence.”


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