Blog: The two-child limit is still cruel now and should be abolished

Punishing children to ‘encourage’ parents is wrong and all politicians should reject any policy that’s proven to impoverish families

Christina McAnea, arms folded, in front of conference stage - 'Fighting for our future'

Last week, I spoke on the BBC’s Politics Live about the need for a proper debate on funding for public services in this country. Public services aren’t just the A&E services we use when something goes horribly wrong, they’re a part of our lives, every day, and that’s exactly how it should be.

A strong society relies on strong public services and a government that believes in building a supportive state. That state needs to give services the funds they need, pay the workforce fairly, and put an extra safety net in place for people when things go wrong in their lives.

It’s been 14 years since George Osborne’s austerity policy started cutting our public services to the bone. And look where we are now. An economy that has barely grown, living standards being hammered, flourishing inequality and a feeling of hopelessness about our futures. It’s obvious to most that austerity has failed.

Part of that austerity policy was to start stripping away at the safety net too. The introduction of the two-child limit for child tax credits and universal credit was Osborne’s idea to encourage parents of larger families to find a job, or work more hours.

UNISON has always campaigned against it because punishing children to ‘encourage’ their parents is not only cruel, but it totally misunderstands the root causes of poverty.

Low pay is the biggest culprit. In-work poverty, extortionate childcare costs and the scandal of the rising cost of living are all products of political choices, and so is this policy. And along with cuts to public services, it has failed too – research shows that rather than increasing employment, it has impoverished families.

UNISON is clear that good political choices result in economic growth that’s shared fairly across everyone in society, and a dramatic reduction in the number of families who are forced to rely on support.

But until that happens, critical safety nets for children must be put back in place. And all politicians should reject any policy that’s proven to impoverish families, and that clearly punishes innocent children.