The SNP has demanded the UK Government finally scraps the two-child cap on benefits amid the cost of living crisis.
The call came from Kirsty Blackman, the party’s work and pensions spokeswoman, five years after the “futile and cruel” policy was introduced by Tory ministers.
The cap prevents benefits payments to the third child and any subsequent children in families born after April 2017 and has been cited as a factor behind increasing child poverty in the UK.
Research published last week by the respected Nuffield Foundation found the cap has failed to discourage poorer families from having more children and has succeeded only in making them less well-off.
Half of those surveyed for research were unaware of the cap before they had a third child while poverty among larger families has been rising sharply since 2013.
Blackman, SNP MP for Aberdeen North, said: “The UK Government is the only one in the world that caps benefits after the second child – that speaks volumes.
“And we know the policy is now just futile and cruel given it has not achieved its misguided aim of discouraging poorer families from having children.
“The policy, which has been around for five years longer than it should have, must go. It is exacerbating child poverty and undermining our efforts in Scotland to tackle it – and it has no place in modern society.”
She added: “The Scottish Government is listening to the experts and doing what it can to put money in people’s pockets in Scotland and tackle poverty, but the UK Government is taking it away again by continuing with this cruel policy and refusing to heed widespread calls.” to bring in policies that will make a difference to struggling families.
“For years now Westminster and its nasty policies have consistently undermined Scotland’s efforts – not just in tackling poverty but on tackling the climate crisis too.”
The Scottish Government last month announced the Scottish Child Payment – a unique benefit not paid elsewhere in the UK – would rise to £25 per child by the end of the year.
A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) said there were exemptions and safeguards in place within the policy to protect the most vulnerable people.
They added: “Universal Credit enables people to support themselves and their families while building towards financial independence through work.
“The latest figures show that there were 200,000 fewer children in absolute poverty after housing costs compared to 2019/20.
“This policy means families on benefits are to make the same financial decisions as families supporting themselves solely through work – including asking for our comprehensive childcare offer for working parents and child benefit for all children.”
The Children’s Commissioners of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have all previously called for the two-child cap to be scrapped.
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