Hundreds of women forced to declare child born as a result of rape, MPs told
More than 1,800 women were forced to declare their child was born as a result of rape or coercive control to receive benefit support, official figures show.
Ministers faced renewed demands to scrap the policy which states low-income families cannot receive further welfare support when they have more than two children.
A clause in the rules means women who have a third child as a result of rape can be exempted – but would have to provide evidence to do so, a move fiercely criticised by campaigners.
SNP MP Alison Thewliss (pictured) (Glasgow Central) told the House of Commons: “Department for Work and Pensions figures that have come out since this House has been sitting now show that 359,000 households are affected by the two-child limit in Universal Credit and child tax credits.
“It affects 1.3 million children and shockingly now 1,830 women have had to fill out a form to prove that their child was born as the result of rape or coercive control just to put food on the table.
“The two-child limit is driving up child poverty rates right across the United Kingdom so can we have an urgent debate in Government time about the urgent and desperate need to scrap this policy once and for all and to value every child regardless of when they were born?”
Commons Leader Mark Spencer replied: “These are very difficult decisions to take.
“I think there are people up and down the country who are not receiving benefits who have to make very difficult decisions about how many children they can afford to have, and there is not a blank cheque from the taxpayer to keep funding people.
“It’s about bringing a balance and fairness into the system so that we can protect taxpayers’ money and make sure it’s spent in the fairest way possible.”
Alison Garnham, Child Poverty Action Group chief executive, said: “The two child-limit is piling on the pain for affected families.
“It forces families to survive on less than they need, pushes them deeper and deeper into poverty as costs rise – and today’s emergency cost-of-living payment does nowhere near enough to pull them back.
“One in 12 children are taking the consequences of this brutal policy – their health, development and well-being are being jeopardised. If every child matters – not just some – the policy must be abolished.”
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