'The government’s two-child limit on benefits is having a devastating impact on family life as it pushes millions of children deeper into poverty, according to the first detailed study of the benefit cut.
Nearly all families affected by the limit reported cutting back on essentials such as food, medication, heating and clothing as a result of the policy, which makes them miss out on at least £53 a week in benefits support.
Many parents reported stress and strained family relationships, as well as shame and guilt at being unable to provide for their children. Several women said they had considered terminations because of fears over the impact on family finances.
Interviews with women experiencing domestic abuse suggested that the two-child limit was regarded as a financial barrier for women and children trying to escape an abusive relationship and created “stark choices between poverty and safety”.
The limit, introduced in April 2017, restricts the child element in universal credit and tax credits worth £2,780 per child per year to the first two children. The government has championed the policy, which will cut the benefits bill by £1bn a year by 2021, as an incentive for people on benefits to work.
However, official figures show most families affected are already in work, while the study found those affected felt strongly that the two-child limit unfairly punished hard-working low income families at a time – the birth of a child – when they most needed support.
One mother told researchers: “The safety net doesn’t exist any more for my family … You feel really distressed that you have turned to the welfare state and that there is nothing available for you and now I must turn to charity. What am I paying taxes for?”'
Read more: Two-child benefit limit pushes families further into poverty – study
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