Gordon Brown: Starmer should scrap two-child benefits cap

Gordon Brown and Keir Starmer on stage together at an event
Gordon Brown, left, has urged the current Labour leader to reconsider elements of welfare spending - Jane Barlow/PA Wire
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Gordon Brown has suggested he wants Sir Keir Starmer to drop the two-child limit on parents claiming child benefits.

The former prime minister said he had never supported the cut, brought in seven years ago, and said the Labour leader should consider whether it continues as part of his review of Universal Credit.

He told Sky News that unless the change is made, the majority of three-children families will be in poverty by 2028.

“What he said is there’s going to be a review of Universal Credit,” he said. “And I think that’s the right thing to do because there are so many different elements of Universal Credit that have got to be looked at.

“There’s obviously the bedroom tax, There’s obviously the cap on benefits. There was a cap on housing benefits…”

Mr Brown added: “What I would like to see is a review that is successful in making sure and this is the test of this, that families with children have the basic necessities of life provided for.”

“I think the two child limit, I never supported it … you need a root and branch review of Universal Credit. And I think I can explain why this is, for him, the right thing to do.”

‘Our economy is not growing’

The two-child cap was introduced by David Cameron but did not come into effect until 2017, by which time Theresa May was prime minister.

It restricts benefits to the first two children in most households, and means families cannot claim more than £3,000 a year per extra child.

Mr Brown said: “I neither want to be a backseat driver or to be someone who pontificates from the outside as if I knew everything because I’ve been in government.

“Quite the opposite. The situation has changed. We are in a new fiscal cycle. Our economy is not growing. The best we can hope is we get to 1 per cent over the next year and that will not be enough to keep standards of living rising or alternatively to pay for our public services.

“So these are difficult decisions that Keir Starmer, Rachel Reeves have got to make.”

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