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Cliff Edge Coalition calls for Northern Ireland Executive to act to remove the two-child limit

On Tuesday 16 April, representatives from the Cliff Edge Coalition were at Stormont for Opposition Day debates on poverty which included motions from the SDLP on removing the two-child limit, eradicating fuel poverty, and banning no-fault evictions.

Removal of the two-child limit is one of our three key asks to help alleviate poverty in Northern Ireland and we were encouraged to hear that there was consensus in the Assembly on the damaging impact that this policy is having on families across Northern Ireland.

We were, however, disappointed that stronger actions and timelines were not agreed to remove this policy, which is one of the biggest drivers of child poverty in the social security system.

The SDLP’s motion on the two-child limit called for Minister for Communities, Gordon Lyons, to present a plan by the end of 2024 on steps to remove the policy. A DUP amendment removed this and instead called for the Minister to consider the merits of a Better Start Larger Families payment. The introduction of a Better Start Larger Families payment was recommended by the Welfare Mitigations Review’s Independent Advisory Panel in 2022. The motion passed with the DUP’s amendment.

In light of this, the Cliff Edge Coalition is now asking that the Northern Ireland Executive does two things urgently:

  • Produces a plan and timeline for the implementation of measures which would fully mitigate the impact of the two-child limit on families in Northern Ireland.
  • Produces a report on any barriers to removing the two-child limit, including financial and IT implications and how the Northern Ireland Executive plans to overcome these barriers, including timelines.

We would also like to see the Executive negotiate a better funding settlement with HM Treasury to ensure that policies to improve the lives of people in Northern Ireland can be implemented.

Siobhán Harding from the Women’s Support Network and a spokesperson for the Cliff Edge Coalition said: “Shockingly, rates of child poverty have risen from 18% to 24% in the last year. We simply cannot afford not to invest in children who will be responsible for the society and economy of the future. We look forward to further engagement with political decisionmakers as we continue our campaign to remove this harmful policy which is compounding poverty across Northern Ireland.”