Nearly 200 women forced to say they were raped to claim child tax credits, MPs told

Almost 200 women have had to declare they are rape victims to qualify for additional child tax credits since a controversial welfare reform was introduced, MPs have heard.

The SNP’s social justice spokesman, Neil Gray, said the benefit changes have had a “devastating” impact on women, as he urged ministers to review the “abhorrent and disgusting” policy.

Mr Gray, speaking during Women and Equalities questions, said a report into the benefit reforms – which limit families to claiming tax credits for their first two children – showed that 190 women have been forced to declare they are rape survivors.

One of the exemptions to the policy is the so-called “rape clause”, which requires women to prove a child was conceived through rape or during an abusive relationship to qualify for the benefit.

He told the Commons: “Just this morning the Government has published its report into the first year of the two-child policy restriction and rape clause to child tax credits, and, as we predicted, the impact on women has been devastating.

“Three thousand families denied and 190 women have had to declare the fact that they are survivors of rape in order to obtain support.

“How can this Government continue to defend this abhorrent and disgusting policy, and will they finally review it?”

Work and Pensions Minister Kit Malthouse said no-one needs to make a “specific declaration”.

He replied: “As I have said in the past, we keep all our policies under constant review, but I would just say to him that one of the fundamental tenets of welfare reform is that the world of welfare should reflect the world of work and that the people on welfare should have to take the same decisions as those that are in work, and that includes making decisions about the number of children that they may or may not have.”

He went on: “But on the issue in particular of those who have children in what he calls the rape clause, we are trying to be as sensitive as we possibly can in this and I’ve made the offer to his SNP colleague from Glasgow to meet with her if she has ideas about a better way that we can handle it.

“At the moment no-one needs to make a specific declaration – we can signpost and assist with people getting the support they need in those circumstances and we are obviously very keen to hear from third-party organisations who have been working with those women who are subject to that appalling situation to make sure they get the support that they need.”

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