Two child policy

The rules about the two child policy are set out in the Welfare Reform Act 2012, the Universal Credit Regulations 2013 (SI.No.376/2013) and the Universal Credit (Transitional Provisions) Regulations 2014 (SI.No.1230/2014).

NB: See below for equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland.

Restrictions on paying child elements

Section 10 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 and regulation 24A of SI.No.376/2013

Sets out when the number of child elements payable in an award may be restricted under the two child policy.

Order of children

Regulation 24B of SI.No.376/2013

Sets out how children within a household should be ordered when applying the restrictions on child elements.

Exceptions

Regulation 24A of and Schedule 12 to SI.No.376/2013

Sets out when an exception to the restriction applies in respect of any child.

Transitional protection

Regulations 40 and 41 of SI.No.1230/2014

Set out the restrictions on paying child elements under the two child policy, and when transitional protection or exceptions apply.

In Northern Ireland, the Welfare Reform (Northern Ireland) Order 2015 together with SR.No.216/2016 and SR.No.226/2016 make provisions that are largely equivalent to that in Great Britain.

Further explanation of the legislation is set out in guidance. Please note, however, guidance is not binding and cannot override the legislation.

Advice for Decision Making

Chapter F1

Sets out the restrictions on paying child elements under the two child policy, and when transitional protection or exceptions apply.

DWP guidance from parliament.uk

Additional amount for children

Provides guidance on additional amounts for children including the two-child limit.

Case law​ provides further interpretation of the legislation and establishes legal precedent.

Court of Appeal

[2019] EWCA Civ 615

Court of Appeal holds that two-child limit is not incompatible with rights under Articles 8, 12 or 14 of European Convention on Human Rights.

High Court

[2018] EWHC 864 (Admin)

High Court rules that the two child limit is compatible with the ECHR, but allows claim in relation to the lawfulness of the kinship care exception.

Note: the compatibility of the two child limit was further appealed to the Court of Appeal.