"It has clearly failed" Portsmouth MPs weigh in on petition to scrap the two-child benefit cap

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“Abolishing the two-child cap is the single most cost-effective way to tackle child poverty”

City MPs have weighed in on a Portsmouth Liberal Democrat’s petition to scrap the two-child benefit cap.

Portsmouth Lib Dems have called on the government to “Scrap the Cap” which restricts child tax credit and universal credit to families with two or fewer children.

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The policy, which was introduced in 2017, was proposed to incentivise parents to work. However, critics argue that it has plunged a rising number of children into poverty.

Data from the End Child Poverty Coalition shows that removing the cap would lift 250,000 children out of poverty across the UK. In Portsmouth, more than a third of children (14,621) are impoverished.

Charlie Murphy, the Liberal Democrats’ parliamentary candidate for Portsmouth South, said that the recent figures are “completely unacceptable”.

“It has now been seven years since the cap was introduced and it has clearly failed,” he said.

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“Abolishing the two-child cap is the single most cost-effective way to tackle child poverty, so I hope we can establish a cross-party consensus to just get it done.

“It’s unfortunate Conservatives and Labour are both currently committed to keeping the two-child cap at the next General Election.”

In response, Labour’s Stephen Morgan, MP for Portsmouth South, said: “Portsmouth people don’t need reminding of the consequences of the Lib Dem-Conservative government which plunged so many children into poverty and decimated the services we all rely on.

“Reducing child poverty was a central achievement when Labour was last in power. The next Labour government will work tirelessly to undo the economic damage inflicted by the coalition and the Tories to achieve the same again.”

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Conservative MP for Portsmouth North and leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt said the government is supporting families by “cutting child poverty and ensuring work pays”.

“Actions that have made a real difference in Portsmouth including reforming taxes, the biggest expansion of free childcare ever, record increases in Universal Credit and the minimum wage and the introduction of family hubs.

“We have overseen hundreds of thousands lifted out of absolute poverty while the number of workless households has fallen by over a million. There are challenges ahead but these can’t be solved just through increasing welfare spending.”

A UK Government spokesperson said: “The two-child policy is about fairness, asking families on benefits to make the same financial decisions as families supporting themselves solely through work, and safeguards are in place to protect people in the most vulnerable circumstances.

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“Our £108 billion cost-of-living support package prevented 1.3 million people falling into poverty in 2022/23, and we’re putting money back into people’s pockets by driving down inflation, cutting taxes, and increasing the National Living Wage.”

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