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World News

Archbishop of Canterbury calls for end to 'cruel' two child benefit cap

by Donna Birrell

The Archbishop of Canterbury has condemned the government's two-child benefit cap as “cruel” and “neither moral nor necessary” - and is calling for Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer to commit to scrapping the policy.

The policy restricts tax credit and universal credit to the first two children in most households. The Prime Minister says the limit will remain under another Tory government - while the Labour leader has so far resisted calls to remove it.

Most Rev Justin Welby told the Observer newspaper that the policy “falls short of our values as a society. It denies the truth that all children are of equal and immeasurable worth, and will have an impact on their long-term health, wellbeing and educational outcomes.

“This cruel policy is neither moral nor necessary.

“We are a country that can and should provide for those most in need, following the example of Jesus Christ, who served the poorest in society.

“As a meaningful step towards ending poverty, and recognising the growing concern across the political spectrum, I urge all parties to commit to abolishing the two-child limit.”

The Archbishop went on to say that it was “shameful” that “children from ethnic minorities and homes where someone is disabled are most affected.

“Children should grow up in families and households where they can flourish and be supported to find their place in the world. Yet the two-child limit prevents many from accessing the resources they need.”

Archbishop Welby, who is President of the Feeding Britain charity said the organisation had found that families affected by the policy are twice as likely to use food banks.

The Bishop of Leicester Rt Rev Martyn Snow who is the Church of England’s  spokesperson on child poverty in the House of Lords, echoed the Archbishop’s calls for an end to the policy. Writing in The Observer he said the policy was “short-sighted and unfair” and that ending it would lift half a million children above the breadline.”

The two-child benefit policy was introduced in 2017 and means that families with a third or subsequent child born after April 2017 do not receive additional benefits related to those children.

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