O’Toole: Ending two-child Universal Credit cap most effective way to tackle poverty

welfare universal credit matthew o'toole Opposition Day

SDLP Leader of the Opposition Matthew O’Toole MLA has said that removing the two-child Universal Credit limit would be the most effective way of lifting children out of poverty.

He was speaking ahead of an SDLP motion on the party’s second Assembly Opposition Day on Tuesday.

The SDLP Opposition has brought forward a proposal with costings to remove the cap, alongside plans to eradicate fuel poverty and end no-fault evictions.

South Belfast MLA Mr O’Toole said:

“The failure to address the poverty that afflicts so many families and communities across the North is deeply shameful and something that cannot be allowed to continue. There can be no tacit acceptance that thousands of children will grow up living in poverty, without enough to eat or the basic essentials that so many of us take for granted. Nor can we allow people to be left living in cold homes, with hundreds dying each winter, or renters forced out of their homes at short notice into an increasingly challenging housing market.

“As part of our work on poverty the SDLP has been engaging with a number of organisations working in the sector and they have been clear that lifting the two-child cap is the most effective way to tackle childhood poverty. We believe that not only is this proposal affordable for the Executive, but urgent action must be taken to implement it.

“The Welfare Mitigations Review Independent Advisory Panel estimated that getting rid of this harmful policy would cost around £40-45m in its first year. The SDLP has proposed a number of potential revenue sources, including the 4% increase to the regional rate announced by the Finance Minister which would raise around £30m, the bulk of the money needed. The Executive could also explore ending the subsidy to non-existent long-haul flights and utilising the millions in rates that go uncollected each year. By taking these steps the Executive could lift thousands of families out of poverty.

“This is the most impactful and direct way in which the Executive can address child poverty and this is an opportunity they cannot afford to waste. The SDLP Opposition is calling on the Communities Minister to bring forward a plan to end this cap by the end of 2024 and I cannot see why any party would fail to support this proposal.”

Font size