The government’s two-child limit benefits policy should be scrapped and families given more help if it is to tackle child poverty, a new report recommends.
The Social Mobility Commission (SMC) is calling for a shake-up of the child welfare system and for extra funding to help disadvantaged pupils whose education has been set back by the coronavirus pandemic.
It recommends that the two-child limit for Universal Credit (UC) and child tax credit should be scrapped so larger families are not penalised.
And it is calling for UC child payments and child benefit to be raised by at least £10 a week per child.
Around 4.3 million children – almost one third of children in the UK – were living in poverty as of March 2020, the SMC said.
The £14 billion package would lift 1.5 million children out of poverty, reducing the overall rate by 35%, the independent body estimates.
“There could not be a more pressing time for the UK Government to make an action plan,” according to its State of the Nation 2021 report.
Last week, figures from the DWP showed that more than 1.1 million children are in families affected by the two-child limit.
The UK-wide policy was introduced in April 2017 and restricts the amount of financial support families with at least three children can receive.
It has been widely criticised by MPs and charities.
The SMC’s call for families to receive an extra £10 a week per child comes as the Government plans to remove the £20 UC uplift introduced to help claimants during the pandemic.
The government has resisted calls from charities, think tanks and its own MPs and former welfare ministers to make the increase permanent, and said it will phase it out from late September.
This could affect 6.2 million families, the SMC said.
Its report says the impact of the pandemic on children will be felt for decades and outlines measures to improve social mobility that should focus on the “poorest and youngest”.
It said there are already signs that attainment gaps between disadvantaged and privileged children at school are widening, and those in working class jobs have experienced some of the biggest declines in paid work during the pandemic.
It is proposing a seven-pronged recovery strategy that focuses on geography, poverty, early years, education, apprenticeships, digital access and work and career progression.
It recommends that the government extends free early years child care to more families, introduces a new student premium for 16-19-year-olds, makes teaching employability and life skills mandatory and builds three million more social homes.
Sandra Wallace, interim co-chair of the SMC, said: “Now is the time to take action and we must not shy away from difficult decisions.
“Now is the moment to level up opportunities for children across the country.
“Ending child poverty and investing significantly in education are two of the most impactful and influential things the UK Government can do to improve social mobility.”
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?