Leading children’s charities and commissioners call for an end to the two-child limit

Post date: 
13 July 2023

Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Rt Hon Sir Keir Starmer MP, Leader of the Labour Party and HM Official Opposition
Stephen Flynn MP, Westminster Leader of the Scottish National Party
Rt Hon Sir Ed Davey MP, Leader of the Liberal Democrats
Rt Hon Sir Jeffrey M Donaldson MP, Westminster Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party
Rt Hon Liz Saville Roberts MP, Westminster Leader of Plaid Cymru
Colum Eastwood MP, Leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party
Stephen Farry MP, Deputy Leader of the Alliance Party
Caroline Lucas MP, Westminster Leader of the Green Party

13 July 2023

Dear Leaders in the House of Commons,

Leading children’s charities and commissioners call for an end to the two-child limit

Today, official statistics confirm that 1.5 million children are growing up in families affected by the two-child limit. This number has been climbing every year as more and more children are born under the policy.

As a group of leading children’s charities and children’s commissioners, we are calling on you, as party leaders, to commit to abolishing the two-child limit, a policy which leaves families without means-tested support for their third and subsequent children worth £3,235 a year. This tax on siblings is the biggest driver of rising child poverty in the UK today.

The two-child limit is a discriminatory policy which is a clear breach of children’s human rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The two-child limit robs children of the basic joys of childhood. It forces parents to take out a loan to buy a school uniform.1 Children give up hobbies because of the costs associated, and they miss out on birthday parties as they cannot afford to bring a gift for a friend.2

The cost of living crisis has made the impact of the policy even more acute. The number of affected families struggling to pay for gas, electricity and food has risen sharply in the last 12 months.3

The two-child limit has a devastating effect on families like Joanna’s.4  Joanna works full-time and lives with her partner and three children. Her partner is too unwell to work at the moment. They lose out on £270 a month due to the two-child limit. Joanna has struggled to keep up with rent payments and, in June 2023, her landlord was granted an outright possession order to evict the family. They have just 14 days to leave their home.

Scrapping the two-child limit is the most cost-effective way to reduce child poverty. It would lift 250,000 children out of poverty and mean 850,000 children are in less deep poverty.5  This single policy change would transform the life chances of 1.5 million children across the UK, children like Joanna’s, who are currently facing homelessness.

Children deserve the chance to thrive, but continued inaction will permit a cohort of children to grow up in poverty, to miss out on play, to be held back at school and denied a better future. If nothing is done, over half of children in larger families will be growing up in poverty by 2027/28.6

Six years after the policy was introduced, we’ve reached the tragic milestone where one in 10 children are affected by the two-child limit. Children need you, as the leaders of this country, to protect their childhood, secure their futures, and abolish the two-child limit.

Yours sincerely

Alison Garnham, CEO of Child Poverty Action Group
Gwen Hines, CEO of Save the Children UK
Joseph Howes, Chair of End Child Poverty Coalition
Lynn Perry MBE, CEO of Barnardo’s
Mairead McCafferty, Chief Executive of the NI Commissioner for Children and Young People
Mark Russell CEO of the Children’s Society
Nick Hobbs, Acting Commissioner at Children & Young People's Commissioner Scotland
Paul Carberry, CEO of Action for Children
Sir Peter Wanless, CEO of NSPCC
Rocio Cifuentes, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales

Please note: the contents of this letter will be shared with the media and the organisations involved will be publicising this letter


  • 1. Based on an online survey which has been running since 2019 and has collected over 3,000 responses from families affected by the two-child limit.
  • 2. Ibid
  • 3. Ibid
  • 4. Joanna is a pseudonym. Her experience was shared with Child Poverty Action Group through our Early Warning System, which collects case studies from welfare rights advisers on problems in the social security system.
  • 5. Child Poverty Action Group, Spring Budget Submission, 2023
  • 6. Resolution Foundation, Living Standards Outlook, 2023