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Nearly four in ten West Midlands children living in poverty as "sibling tax" bites

New data has revealed 38 per cent of children are living in poverty in the West Midlands, which is worse than most of the UK.

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Child poverty is rising in the county

The consequences of no child benefit being given to families after they had two children, introduced in 2017, has hit one in seven children in the West Midlands.

Birmingham is the worst hit with one in children worse off due to the "sibling tax" and Walsall and Sandwell followed with one in six children impacted.

The research was carried out by The End Child Poverty Coalition which is calling on local MPs to demand the rule be scrapped by the Government.

The two-child limit affects families entitled to benefits who have had a third or subsequent child after April 2017. These parents are denied up to £3,235 per year per child compared with families who have a third or subsequent child born before that date. The majority (58 per cent) of families affected by the policy are already in work.

The highest Black Country constituencies for child poverty and sibling tax impact are Walsall North, Walsall South, Warley, Wolverhampton North East, West Bromwich West and Wolverhampton South East.

Joseph Howes, Chair of the End Child Poverty Coalition, said: “Imagine saying to a child who turned up at school in Birmingham or Stoke on Trent, or any other part of the West Midlands– sorry you can’t gain access, we won’t fund your education – only your two older siblings qualify. Yet this is exactly what the unfair two-child limit to benefit payments does, it denies families the support they need, at a time when they need it the most.

Joseph Howes, chair of the coalition

“As a parent I want to be able to provide for my children, especially at a magical time like Christmas. But we know from speaking with families impacted by the two-child limit that this time of year is anything but joyful. Instead, they worry about heating their homes, and providing even basic food over the Christmas period.

“If political parties seriously want to tackle child poverty, they need to start by scrapping the two-child limit to benefit payments.”

Lynn Perry MBE, Barnardo’s Chief Executive, a member of the End Child Poverty Coalition said: “It’s simply not right that children growing up with two or more siblings are so much more likely to be living in poverty. The majority of families receiving Universal Credit are in work, and many are struggling for reasons beyond their control - such as a family break-up, the death of a partner, or someone losing a job amid the cost-of-living crisis.

“The unfair two-child limit on benefits is one of the biggest policy drivers of child poverty. If political parties are serious about levelling-up they need to urgently commit to ending the policy. This needs to be included in the manifestos of all political parties ahead of the forthcoming election to help tackle child poverty in the UK.”

The End Child Poverty Coalition is made up of over 100 organisations including child welfare groups, social justice groups, faith groups, trade unions and others. Together with a group of Youth Ambassadors, members campaign for a UK free of child poverty.

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