End ‘unnecessary suffering’ caused by two-child benefit cap, SNP says

Labour has previously said it would not commit to scrapping the two-child cap unless it could be fully costed, Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The SNP has called for an end to the “unnecessary suffering” caused by the two-child benefit cap seven years on from its introduction.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been urged to reflect on the damage critics say the policy has caused to families and commit to scrapping it.

Labour has previously said it would not commit to scrapping the benefit unless it could be fully costed, however Sir Keir Starmer said his party would look to implement the policy “more fairly”.

However, SNP MP Alison Thewliss said a potentially incoming Labour government should “grow a backbone” and scrap the policy if the Conservatives do not.

The policy prevents families from claiming benefits for a third or subsequent children born after April 6, 2017.

SNP MP Alison Thewliss said the policy is damaging families Credit: Jane Barlow/PA

An associated so-called rape clause grants exemptions for a child born as a result of “non-consensual conception”.

The policy restricts child tax and universal credit, meaning families cannot claim around £3,200 per year per additional child.

Ms Thewliss said: “For almost a decade, the two-child cap has caused so much unnecessary suffering for children and families across the UK, all to satisfy the Tories’ careless ideological austerity obsession.

“Despite overwhelming evidence that the policy has done nothing but impose severe harm on women and children, the Tories have remained wedded to it, revealing their wilful ignorance to the horrors of child poverty and rape in modern day Britain.”

Taking aim at Labour, she said Sir Keir’s party is “no better”.

She said: “Having repeatedly refused to commit to getting rid of the two-child cap if they win the next election, leading many to ask: what is the point of Labour?

“It’s been exactly seven years since the cruel policy was introduced and Sir Keir Starmer and Rishi Sunak should reflect on the damage this policy has caused and commit to getting rid of it.

“Whilst it will be no surprise if the Tories ignore our call, given they seem incapable of showing decency or empathy to anyone but the mega-rich, we should expect Labour to grow a backbone and commit to making a lasting change overnight by ending, once and for all, the two-child cap and rape clause.”

A UK government spokesperson said: “The two-child policy is about fairness, asking families on benefits to make the same financial decisions as families supporting themselves solely through work, and safeguards are in place to protect people in the most vulnerable circumstances.

“Our £108 billion cost-of-living support package prevented 1.3 million people falling into poverty in 2022/23, and we’re putting money back into people’s pockets by driving down inflation, cutting taxes, and increasing the National Living Wage.”

Scottish Labour’s health spokesman Paul O’Kane said: “While poverty rises under the SNP’s watch and waits for social security payments soar, they would rather attack Scottish Labour than set their own house in order.

“Labour is committed to reforming Universal Credit and making work pay with our transformative New Deal for Working People that will scrap zero hours contracts and boost wages for thousands of Scots.

“An SNP government that sided with energy giants over working people cannot pretend to be on the side of working people.”

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