Alison Thewliss, SNP MP for Glasgow Central, has wasted no time in contacting new cabinet ministers regarding the damaging effects of the two child policy and rape clause, following the Prime Minister’s reshuffle earlier this week.
The campaigning MP has written to both Esther McVey, the new Secretary of State at the Department for Work and Pensions, and also to Karen Bradley, who was announced as the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, to ask that one of their priorities be to reverse the implementation of the two child policy for tax credits and Universal Credit, and the associated rape clause.
The Government legislated in April 2017 to restrict Child Tax Credit and Universal Credit (child element) claims to the first two children in a family, a decision which the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) has said will force 200,000 children below the poverty line.
In addition, women who have conceived a third or subsequent child as a result of rape, must apply for an exemption, requiring them to relive their harrowing ordeal during an interview. In Northern Ireland, third party referrers are obliged under law to report instances of rape, even if doing so means that women are placed in further danger of violence.
Commenting, Alison Thewliss MP said:
“This is as good a time as any for the UK Government to drop the vile and medieval rape clause, and stigmatising two child policy which lies behind it.
“Esther McVey is now the fifth Secretary of State for the DWP since I was elected in 2015, and the first woman in that time. I want to know from her whether she is comfortable in making a woman who has suffered the trauma of rape, domestic violence and coercive control go through the shame of proving her child was conceived as a result of that sexual abuse.
“Similarly, I am keen to understand Karen Bradley’s views on the ongoing legal uncertainty in Northern Ireland with respect to this policy. The current system places third party referrers in an impossible position and arguably puts women off claiming an exemption at all. If cases are referred to the police, this potentially places women who are already vulnerable in even more danger at the hands of their abusive partners.
“So far, the UK Government has failed to listen on this issue. I am hopeful that the Prime Minister’s reshuffle presents an opportunity for the right thing to be done by women and families, and for this abhorrent policy to be rescinded once and for all”.