Official data show that 900 women were forced to reveal that their child was conceived because of a rape to seek social security help under the protection of two children ‘s government on benefits.
Government figures reveal in its first three years that 243,000 families containing 911,000 children have been affected by the controversial policy, which was designed to offer £ 1 billion in social savings.
Opposition MPs condemned the two-child limit – which was launched by former Chancellor George Osborne in 2015 and went into effect two years later – as one of the main drivers of child poverty that should be demolished.
The policy prevents parents from claiming the child element in tax credits or universal credit for third or subsequent children born after April 6, 2017. Plans to extend the cut, worth £ 2,780 per child to those born before 2017, they were abandoned after a protest.
Although the policy was allegedly introduced to force families to benefit from benefits to make the same financial choices as those they work, government figures show that nearly three out of five affected families have at least one adult at work.
Families affected by the two-child limit lose £ 53 per week for each unsuitable child compared to what they would have received prior to its introduction. A study released last year found that affected families cut back on food, medication, heating and clothing.
The “rape clause” was introduced to allow women whose third or subsequent child was conceived through sexual assault to be exempted from the limit. There are other exemptions for multiple births and adoptions.
At the time of its introduction, the rape clause sparked a furious reaction from women’s groups and charities to the rape crisis, who argue that it is inhumane to force traumatized women to have to explain the circumstances of rape as part of it. of a claim for compensation.
Scottish MP Alison Thewliss, who first identified the “rape clause”, called it “one of the most inhuman and barbaric policies ever enacted by Whitehall.”
The government was forced by the courts in 2018 to introduce a separate exemption for kinship assistants who were penalized by the two-child limit for having their own children while already caring for younger siblings. The judge called the policy “perverse and illegal”.
Responding to the latest figures, Thewliss said: “The UK government has no room to hide in the face of these harmful statistics. Covid-19 has highlighted the gaps in the social safety net – I urge the new prime minister to do the right thing and eliminate the two-child limit for everyone.
“Most shocking of all, 900 women were forced to undergo the process of requesting an exception because of a non-consensual conception. Each of these women was placed in a position where they had to fill out a form to prove that their child was conceived as a result of rape or coercion, just to make ends meet. “
Shadow Labor and Pensions Secretary Jonathan Reynolds said: “These figures show just how many families the two-child limit is pushing into further difficulties at a difficult time. Nobody could have foreseen a crisis like Covid-19 when making decisions about the size of his family and it is unfair to punish them for that now.
“The two-child limit is effectively an 18-year penalty on such decisions and is a determining factor for child poverty. Work would eliminate it altogether as part of building a new social security system that provides a standard of living. dignified for all “.
A spokesman for the Department of Labor and Pensions said: “It is untenable that the benefits automatically increase with the size of the family. In 2019, 85% of all families had two or fewer children, therefore it is proportionate to provide support for up to two children and there are appropriate exceptions.
“We are committed to supporting the most vulnerable in society and understanding the challenges that many families are facing. This is why we have injected £ 6.5 billion into the social security system since the start of the pandemic, including increasing universal credit and labor tax credit to £ 1,040 per year. “