Wes Streeting praises archbishop over call for Labour to scrap two-child benefit cap | Welfare

Wes Streeting has praised the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, for calling on Labour to scrap the two-child benefit cap, saying it was “literally his job” to speak out on such matters.

Streeting, the shadow health secretary, said he did not like the cap, which campaigners say has pushed hundreds of thousands of families into poverty, but that the party could not commit to ending it until it knew how this would be financed.

Welby told the Observer that the two-child cap, introduced in 2017, which limits child tax credit and universal credit payments to the first two children in a family, with a few exceptions, “falls short of our values as a society” and that Labour should scrap it.

Asked on Sky’s Sunday Morning with Trevor Philips what he felt about the comments, Streeting said Welby was perfectly entitled to express such views.

“You’re never going to find, if there’s a Labour government, politicians being sent out to attack the archbishop of Canterbury for virtue-signalling, as Conservative MPs have done,” Streeting said. “It is literally his job. He’s the one person in the country whose job it is to signal virtue.

“And if the mission of the church is not to alleviate poverty and suffering, then I don’t know what is.”

Streeting added: “I take him really seriously, and if we are fortunate enough to be in government after the next general election, we will have a serious cross-government strategy for not just reducing child poverty but ending child poverty.”

Labour has faced criticism for not committing to ending the cap, but Streeting said this was unavoidable: “It is one of the consequences of the Conservatives’ disastrous handling of the economy that the public finances are in a mess, and there are hard choices to make. Unless and until I can sit on your programme and say, we will do x by funding it through y, that’s not a commitment I’m able to make today.”

Asked if he would like to get rid of the cap, Streeting said: “Well, I voted against the two-child limit. So by definition, I wish it wasn’t there.”

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Welby 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,” noting that it most affected children from ethnic minorities and homes where someone was disabled.

He said: “Children should grow up in families and households where they can flourish and be supported to find their place in the world. Yet the two-child limit prevents many from accessing the resources they need. This cruel policy is neither moral nor necessary.”

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Posted: 2024-05-19 11:13:21

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