More than 1.1million children are now hit by the Tories’ two-child benefit cap.
Annual figures reveal 1,148,650 kids lived in households affected by the limit in April 2021, up from 911,190 last year.
In total 317,500 households are hit, 44% of them single parents. They are on a mixture of Child Tax Credits (139,000) and their replacement Universal Credit (178,000).
Bishop of Durham Paul Butler condemned the figures, saying: “The two-child limit is now the main driver of rising child poverty and is pushing many more children even deeper into poverty.
“Every day, we hear stories from families affected by this policy, who cannot afford to buy clothes or other basic items for their children. We don’t think it’s right that these families are not getting the support they need when parents lose their jobs or their relationship breaks down, especially in the middle of a pandemic.”
The official statistics come days after two mums lost a landmark Supreme Court fight against the limit.
Justices dismissed claims it breached human rights despite admitting it “disproportionately” hit women. They said it could be justified because Parliament made the decision to implement it.
Welfare-slashing Tory George Osborne’s limit bans families from claiming a £237-a-month “child element” for “third or subsequent” children born since April 2017, plunging thousands into poverty.
There are exemptions for twins or children born of rape, but raped mothers must document the fact of their ordeal on an official form.
Some 1,330 mothers are now receiving the “non-consensual” exemption, today’s figures show.
SNP MP Alison Thewliss, who has campaigned against the “rape clause”, said: “It is fundamentally a failed policy that any government with an ounce of compassion would have already sought to abolish.
“My heart goes out to the 1,330 women who have had to make use of the rape clause throughout the UK.”
Labour warned the cut will only bite harder as more children are born – with the Resolution Foundation estimating 730,000 more kids will live in poverty by 2024, if the limit remains and Universal Credit is cut by £20 a week.
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jonathan Reynolds said: “The Government’s plan to cut Universal Credit for millions of families on top of a decade of cuts to our social security system is morally and economically wrong.
“Under the Conservatives over a million kids will be living in families £4,000 a year worse off, pushing hundreds of thousands more kids into poverty.
“It is time the Government saw sense, backed struggling families and cancelled their cut to Universal Credit. Labour would replace Universal Credit with a fairer social security system.”
Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group Alison Garnham added: “Universal credit should be a port in the storm for families. But the two-child policy means many are denied the support they need for children – just when they need it most.”
Despite 37% of Universal Credit claimants having a job, the government insists the policy is right because it “asks families on benefits to make the same financial decisions as families supporting themselves solely through work”.
A government spokesperson said last week: “No child born before the policy was introduced is included, and child benefit continues to be paid for all children. We also have a comprehensive childcare support offer for working parents.”