Share this:

5th April 2024

Embargoed until 19:00


The unhappiest of 7th birthdays – 7 years of the two child limit to benefit payments         

Saturday 6th April marks seven years since the implementation of the two-child limit to benefit payments. Today (Friday 5th) the End Child Poverty Coalition held a stunt outside the Department of Work and Pensions in London to mark this unhappy anniversary. A giant unhappy birthday card was presented by charity representatives, parent campaigners (some of whom are impacted by the policy), youth activists and children to the Department. Highlighting that for this group this is one birthday they will never celebrate.

Photos of this stunt are included with this release. Please credit Jonathan Hyams/ Save the Children

The two-child limit to benefit payments is a cruel policy which pushes families into poverty. It deprives families who claim benefit payments of the child element of this, if their third child was born after April 2017. 1 in every 10 children in the UK lives in a home which has benefit payments reduced by this policy.

Joseph Howes, CEO of Buttle UK and Chair of the End Child Poverty Coalition said;

“It is sad to think that the cruel two-child limit has now been in place for seven years. That is seven years of families living in poverty as a result. Many families could have planned to support more than two children through work alone, but may have then suffered a family break up, death of a partner, losing a job and the cost-of-living crisis – and are no longer able to. Sadly, our benefits system is not set up to catch these families when they fall.

“In this election year political parties can no longer ignore the harm this policy causes, and must commit to scrapping this sibling tax”


Rosie, a mother of three children who is impacted by the two-child limit to benefit payments said;

“My third child is about to turn 7 years old. He is as old as this policy, one of the first children to be born who was impacted by this. And for all of his life, for seven whole years, it feels as if he is invisible to those who make decisions about benefit payments.”


To mark the anniversary, the End Child Poverty Coalition have released 7 unhappy facts about the two-child limit;

  1. 5 million children live in families whose benefit payments are reduced by the two-child limit, that is 1 in every 10 children.
  2. 46% of children living in families with three or more children are living in poverty. Whilst 22% of children living in a family without other children are in poverty.
  3. Every UK constituency is now home to families impacted by this policy. In some constituencies the rate is as high as 3 in 10 children living in a household which is affected by this limit to benefit payments.
  4. 2,590 women in 2023 had to disclose that they were raped to get an exemption to this policy
  5. 50% of households impacted by the policy are single parent families
  6. 59% of families impacted have at least one working parent
  7. The government has made no assessment of the correlation between the two-child limit and levels of child poverty


Notes to editors

  1. The End Child Poverty coalition ( is made up of around 120 organisations from civic society including children’s charities, child welfare organisations, social justice groups, faith groups, trade unions and others, united in our vision of a UK free of child poverty. Members include Child Poverty Action Group, The Children’s Society, Buttle UK, Gingerbread, Oxfam GB, Action for Children, Trade Unions Congress, Save the Children, and the National Children’s Bureau.
  1. You can get in touch with the coalition by emailing or on 07918 567577.
  1. Photos are credited to Jonathan Hyams/ Save the Children. Higher resolution photos, and more images are available on request
Share this: