Southwark Labour vote against calls to scrap two-child benefit cap despite 36% of Southwark children living in poverty

23 Nov 2023
Tooley Street Office

The two-child benefit cap, which prevents parents from claiming child tax credit or universal credit for more than two children, was introduced by the Conservative Government in 2017.

Data provided by the End Child Poverty Coalition shows that removing the cap would lift 250,000 children across the UK out of poverty. 

In Southwark, 36% of children live in poverty when taking housing costs in to account.

The Child Poverty Action Group says the economic and societal effects of child poverty, including spending on public services, costs the UK £39 billion every year. 

In October this year, Lambeth Labour also voted against a Liberal Democrat motion calling for the two-child benefit cap to be scrapped. Lambeth Liberal Democrat Councillor Matthew Bryant said “Scrapping the two-child limit is the most cost-effective way to reduce child poverty”.

The Liberal Democrat amendment to the motion also called on the council to support young people by committing to longer-term provision of the expanded free school meals scheme.

With additional funding from the Mayor of London, Southwark will be offering free school meals to secondary school pupils in receipt of universal credit. However, the additional funding is only available for this year, with no guarantee of the scheme lasting beyond that.

Commenting, Cllr Irina von Wiese, who proposed the amendment, said:

“Labour talk big on helping young people, but when we offered the chance to support policies that would make real differences to young peoples’ lives in Southwark, they reject them.

The expansion of free school meals is vital, but the additional funding is only available for one year and Southwark must guarantee that this support will not be ripped away just as quickly.

The devastating impact of the Conservatives two-child benefit cap is obvious to anyone, forcing families into poverty and costing the government millions in additional support. Its baffling that Labour, both locally and nationally, refuse to commit to scrapping this policy. If they want to give young people the best start in life, they need to commit to the meaningful changes that will make that happen.”

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