Ask CPAG Online - how does the two-child limit apply to income support and jobseeker’s allowance?

This section looks at how the two-child limit affects your income support or jobseeker’s allowance. It looks at what happens if you already have three or more children (including where you are already getting benefit) and what happens if you have another child.

When does the two-child limit apply to income support or jobseeker’s allowance?

Income support and jobseeker’s allowance usually do not include amounts for children, so usually will not be affected by the two-child limit. The only type of jobseeker’s allowance that could be affected is income-based jobseeker’s allowance. Contribution-based jobseeker’s allowance never includes amounts for children and is not affected.

The only situation in which your income support or income-based jobseeker’s allowance could be affected is if you are one of the relatively few people still entitled to amounts for children in either benefit. You can only get child amounts in these benefits if:

  • you have a current claim for income support or income-based jobseeker’s allowance that began before 6 April 2004, and
  • you had a child included in that claim before 6 April 2004 and you have not been awarded child tax credit.

If this applies to you, from 6 April 2017 the two-child limit applies regarding all third or subsequent children in your family born on or after 6 April 2017. There are no special arrangements or rules about third or subsequent children born before that date – if such a child was born before that date, the two-child limit cannot apply regarding them.

From 6 April 2017, if you have a third or subsequent child who was born on or after that date, you cannot get a personal allowance for them, unless an exception applies (see What are the exceptions?) You can continue to get personal allowances already included.

You can get a personal allowance for:

  • your first and second child (whenever they were born);
  • any child, including a third or subsequent child, born before 6 April 2017;
  • a third or subsequent child born on or after 6 April 2017 to whom an exception applies.

The main rule about the two-child limit in income support is in regulation 5 of the Social Security (Restrictions on Amounts for Children and Qualifying Young Persons) Amendment Regulations 2017. The main rule about the two-child limit in income-based jobseeker’s allowance is in regulation 6 of the Social Security (Restrictions on Amounts for Children and Qualifying Young Persons) Amendment Regulations 2017

What if you already have three or more children?

 If you are already getting personal allowances for three or more children, they will continue.

The key is whether your third or subsequent child was born on or after 6 April 2017. If they were, the two-child limit will apply regarding them, and you will not get a personal allowance for them unless an exception applies. If they were born before 6 April, you will get a personal allowance for them.

 What if you have another child?

If your new child is only your second child, the two-child limit does not apply regarding them – you always get child elements for your first and second children, whenever they were born. This is the case whether or not you are already getting child tax credit.

If you form a new family with someone with children of their own, all the children in your new family will count.

If you have another child who is your third or subsequent child (or a third or subsequent child otherwise becomes part of your family) and they are born on or after 6 April 2017, the two-child limit will apply regarding them. So you will not get a child element for them unless an exception applies.