Archbishop of Canterbury calls for end to ‘cruel’ two-child benefit limit

The Archbishop of Canterbury has condemned the two-child benefit cap as “cruel” as he urged Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer to commit to scrapping it.

The Most Reverend Justin Welby said the limit was “neither moral nor necessary” and it “falls short of our values as a society”.

The Prime Minister has committed to keep the policy if the Tories remain in power after the general election, while Sir Keir has so far resisted calls to scrap it despite claiming ending child poverty is “central” to his plans for government.

The cap, which was introduced in 2017, restricts child tax credit and universal credit to the first two children in most households.

Labour visit to Essex
Sir Keir Starmer said tackling child poverty was a central theme for any incoming Labour government but he would not make promises he was not certain of keeping (Victoria Jones/PA)

The Archbishop told the Observer: “The two-child limit falls short of our values as a society. It denies the truth that all children are of equal and immeasurable worth, and will have an impact on their long-term health, wellbeing and educational outcomes.”

The Archbishop’s intervention will increase pressure on Sir Keir to act if Labour comes into power.

Sir Keir was challenged on his position when he launched his plan for Labour’s “first steps” in office on Thursday.

He said tackling child poverty was “central to an incoming Labour government” but “what I can’t do is make promises that I can’t deliver on”.

But the Archbishop of Canterbury said: “This cruel policy is neither moral nor necessary.

“We are a country that can and should provide for those most in need, following the example of Jesus Christ, who served the poorest in society.

“As a meaningful step towards ending poverty, and recognising the growing concern across the political spectrum, I urge all parties to commit to abolishing the two-child limit.”