Scottish Greens urged SNP to fix two-child benefit cap, not just complain

THE Scottish Greens have urged the SNP to use Holyrood’s devolved powers to offset the impact of the two-child benefit limit instead of simply complaining about it.

The call came as the latest annual figures showed a continued rise in the number of families affected by the controversial Tory policy, including its “rape clause”.

With the UK Supreme Court last week ruling the policy is legal, the SNP urged the UK Government to scrap it and said it was another reason for independence.

However the Greens, who are in talks about joint government with the SNP, demanded more than rhetoric, and said the Scottish Government should “step in” and mitigate the cut.

Green MSP Maggie Champan said: “In Scotland, we should do whatever we can to mitigate these inhuman policies using devolved powers, as we already do with the Bedroom Tax. 

“The wellbeing of tens of thousands of our poorest children is at stake.”

READ MORE: Tory two-child benefit limit that includes ‘rape clause’ is ruled legal

The two-child rule, which came into force in April 2017, restricts Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit to the first two children in a family, with a few exceptions, including rape and multiple births.

The limit can result in a loss of up to £2,845 for every third and subsequent child.

The measure attracted huge criticism over the so-called “rape clause”, which forced women to reveal pregnancies arising from non-consexual sex to qualify for benefit.

Across the UK, around 836,000 households with three or more children claimed either Universal Credit (361,000) or Child Tax Credit (475,000) in the year to April.

Of thse, around 317,500 were affected as a result of the two-child limit, with 308,520 losing benefit and 14,000 managing to claim an exemption, including 1,330 because of rape.

The number affected was up 58,220, or 23%, across the UK from the previous year.

The number claiming an exemption from the cap on the grounds of non-consensual sex UK-wide was up 430, almost 50 per cent, on 2019/20.

READ MORE: Tom Gordon – Police probe into SNP will grind Sturgeon down

In Scotland, the total number of household affected by the two-child limit was 17,830, up 25% from 14,250 the previous year.

The number of households claiming an exemption was 990, up 25% from 790 in 2019/20.

Of these, the number of households in Scotland claiming an exemption from the cap on the grounds of non-consensual sex was up 43%, from 70 to 100 last year.

Glasgow Central SNP MP Alison Thewliss, who first highlighted the rape clause, said over half those affected by the two-child limit were in work.

She said: “Not only is the two-child limit and associated rape clause deeply cruel and pernicious, it is fundamentally a failed policy that any government with an ounce of compassion would have already sought to abolish.

“These figures show that the majority of affected households have at least one adult in work – shattering the Tories’ dubious claim their policy is about fairness to those in employment.

“My heart goes out to the 1330 women who have had to disclose horrific details under the rape clause.

“In the face of overwhelming evidence about the damage that the two-child limit is inflicting on an ever-increasing number of women and children, it is hugely troubling that UK government Ministers remain so obstinately wedded to it.

“At a time where the SNP Scottish Government is putting money into people’s pockets with progressive policies like the Scottish Child Payment, the Tories are taking it away again with callous policies like the two child cap. 

“It is clear that we can only protect families in Scotland with the full powers of independence.

“I urge them to reconsider, and to scrap it once and for all. I will continue to be part of the fight to oppose it at every opportunity”.

READ MORE: Two-child tax credit limit – Take the argument to Holyrood, not the Supreme Court, by Adam Tomkins

Ms Chapman, the Greens’ social security spokesperson, also callled on the UK Government to end the policy, but also reminded the Scottish Government that it was within its power to do something about it.

She said: “With around 18,000 Scots families being denied money their children have been assessed as requiring, today’s figures show just how far the UK Government has distorted our social security system.

“Taking almost £3,000 per child from some of our poorest families seriously undermines Scotland’s efforts to reduce child poverty, whilst asking people to fill in a form to signify their child was conceived as a result of rape is simply inhumane.

“The UK Government must end these cruel policies now. But, if, or more likely, when – because we know their punitive approach to social security – they refuse, the Scottish Government can and should step in. In Scotland, we should do whatever we can to mitigate these inhuman policies using devolved powers, as we already do with the Bedroom Tax. 

“The wellbeing of tens of thousands of our poorest children is at stake.”

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992