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Carers Week 2022: Reflecting on the two-child limit

The theme for Carers Week 2022 is ‘Make caring visible, valued and supported’. Here, Tim, our Benefits Service Coordinator, shares his thoughts on the two-child limit and why this is an important topic for discussion.

Carers may have received some good news with the extra help for fuel bills recently, but there are some groups who are still living on reduced incomes due the cutbacks that were made to carers’ benefits by the austerity measures from around 2015.

To coincide with Carers Week, I thought I would highlight one particular group who are at least £2,934.96 per year worse off – parent carer families with more than 2 children whose 3rd child was born after 1st April 2017.

Under the two-child limit, parents are not entitled to any extra support through Universal Credit or Child Tax Credit to help with raising a third or subsequent child born after this date. Carers are not exempt from this rule even though we have much more limited choices about working.

There have been a number of charities who have continued to oppose the rule, as have the children’s commissioners for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Bishop of Durham has also introduced a Private Member’s Bill to the House of Lords to try to get the policy reversed.

Here are three real examples of how our carers have been affected. All the names have been changed.

Stephen was a single parent, who met Amy who had severe emotional health issues and was also a single parent. They formed a relationship and moved in together. He worked, but when they had a baby together, he needed to give up work to support his partner as she had challenges in looking after the baby. As their child was born after 2017, they do not get support for her on their Universal Credit claim.

Colleen had her own business and her husband worked full-time. They had two children without disabilities, before having a third who had complex physical needs. The pressure of their caring role led her husband to become violent. She had to leave the relationship to protect her and her children. Again she only gets 2 child elements on her Universal Credit.

Paul and Julie had two children, both with moderate to severe Autistic Spectrum Conditions. Although there was no doubt that they loved them totally and unconditionally, they both felt that they could offer so much as parents to a neurotypical child and their human instinct led to a decision to have a third child.  Their third son was born in 2018, and he appears to be neurotypical, but their family budget is extremely stretched. As a result, they often contact Swindon Carers Centre for financial advice and support.

I strongly feel that families who have Carers Allowance or would be eligible for Carers Allowance should be exempt from this rule and want to highlight this for Carers Week 2022.

Click here to find out about welfare and benefits support from Swindon Carers Centre.