Newcastle Liberal Democrats fighting to scrap the cap on child benefits to help the poorest in the City as Labour refuses to help them

22 Jun 2024
Ed Davey with a group of school kids.

Councillor Christine Morrissey told the June 2024 meeting of Newcastle City Council :

I am extremely frustrated and concerned that once again I am bringing to
Council a Motion looking for support to abolish the two child benefit cap.

If anyone does require reminding of this ‘vicious’ policy - which has been
described as “the worst ever social security policy in a crowded field
going back to the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834, morally odious and
vindictively conceived”.
The supposed aim was, in the view of the Conservative Party to bring to
heel imagined hoards of lazy, feckless, recklessly breeding welfare
scroungers and force them to get a job.
So what has happened since 2017 - what are the huge benefits to the
economy of this policy?

Well, 4.3 million children now live in poverty in the UK – 100,000 more
than last year and the figure is growing.

Repeated evaluations have proved it has failed to persuade poorer
families to have less children and work more hours and in practice, its
main function, has been to push working families into poverty as more
than half of those affected by the two-child limit are in work, and made it
less likely non-working parents moved into employment.

The policy has affected an estimated 1.5 million children, and has
impoverished families rather than increasing employment. About one in
10 of all UK children (1.5 million) are currently affected by the two-child
limit. Of these, 1.1 million are in poverty.

The main impact of the policy has been to become the biggest single
driver of child poverty.

A recent study found that as many as one in four children in some of
England constituencies are in families left at least £3,250 poorer by the
It also found that in the most ethnically diverse communities, 14% of
children were hit by the cap.
Local child poverty rates correlate very strongly with the percentage of
families affected by the two-child benefit cap, indicating that the
controversial policy is a key factor behind children growing up in
Which brings me to why I am even more frustrated and angry this
evening. Even though we may be on the threshold of a Labour
Government, this policy described by both Angela Rayner as “obscene
and inhumane”, and Keir Starmer himself as a ‘punitive sanction’ will not
be abolished - as part of an iron devotion to spending discipline. A
Labour Party which was founded to ‘ represent the interests and needs
of the urban working class’ is not representing the needs and interests of
our children.

Abolishing the cap would cost £1.3bn a year, less than 1% of the welfare
bill and would lift 250,000 children out of poverty, and a further 850,000
would be in less deep poverty it is by far the most cost-effective way of
reducing the number of children living in poverty.

Unspecified ‘reforms’ are no substitute for urgently needed public
investment. It’s not for me to suggest solutions as to how a Labour
Government could fund a properly functioning child benefit system -
however, I can suggest a contact who has included abolishing this
regressive, punitive, discriminatory policy in a fully costed Manifesto.
I urge members to support my Motion.

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