A Fermanagh-based doctor has said that the two-child limit is "plunging children and their families into poverty".

Dr. Ray Nethercott, Royal College Paediatrics & Child Health Officer for Ireland: stated that the policy "has been nothing short of a disaster."

Discussing the detrimental impact of poverty on children, he said: "Poverty is insidious in nature. It takes hold at an early age and can destroy a child’s future by stretching long into adulthood. It determines the food, or lack of, a child eats, the quality of air they breathe and even a child’s life expectancy. It is systemic and, as a result of policies like the two-child benefit cap, often impossible to escape. Poverty is also costly for wider society, both in the short-term and the long-term. Health inequalities leave our health services with high bills and long waiting lists.

"Today’s children are our best chance for a prosperous society, but poverty will rob them of their future ability to create, innovate and economically contribute to a better tomorrow. Let’s stop punishing our children and scrap this heinous policy now."

The two-child limit affects families entitled to benefits who have had a third or subsequent child after 6 April 2017. These parents are denied £3,235 per year per child compared with families who have a third or subsequent child born before that date.

Over 9 per cent of children in Fermanagh and Omagh are affected by the 2-child limit. This amounts to 2,660 children in 740 households, according to figures from the End Child Poverty Coalition, which the Northern Ireland Anti-Poverty Network and the charity Save the Children are part of

A spokesperson from the End Child Poverty Coalition said: "2,660 children in 740 households. 22% of children in Fermanagh and Omagh live in poverty, and this policy only puts more pressure on the most vulnerable families."

Save the Children’s Policy and Public Affairs Adviser Naomi McBurney said: “It is completely unacceptable in 2023 that any child is living in poverty, let alone nearly a quarter of children. The two-child limit is unjust and unethical.

“We know that the public in Northern Ireland agrees. Our recent poll found that 64% of people believe that the two-child limit is unfair or very unfair. The government does not limit education or access to the NHS to the first two children in a family, so it certainly should not apply to the child payment for Universal Credit or Tax Credits.”