The government’s policy of restricting parents’ tax credits applications to two children flies in the face of the Prime Minister’s pledge to fight the “burning injustice” of child poverty, says UNISON today (Monday).
The policy, which came into force earlier this year, means that families who have a third child born on or after 6 April 2017 will be £2,780 worse off than a family with a baby born the day before, according to UNISON.
As a result of the change, UNISON says that more than a quarter of a million children (256,000) will be living in poverty by the end of this parliament, while more than 600,000 middle to low-income families will be pushed closer to the poverty line.
Exemptions to the tax credit limit include children who have been adopted, multiple births or if a child is conceived as a result of “non-consensual” conception.
UNISON is extremely critical of this controversial clause because it not only requires rape victims to relive their trauma in trying to justify their tax credit claim, but also dismisses the fact that a pregnancy may have occurred as a result of contraception failures, abusive relationships or religious beliefs.
As a result, UNISON believes that many pregnant women already living in poverty will be faced with the impossible choice of either pushing their family deeper into debt or having an abortion.
Speaking at a campaign event in Westminster, UNISON President Margaret McKee said: “The introduction of the two-child limit for tax credits is the very worst kind of government policy. It’s immoral and will plunge many more children into poverty.
“It’ll cost larger families thousands of pounds a year, when they’re already struggling to get by. No child should be penalised because they were not the first or second born in their family. This is simply wrong.
“And woe betide a mother who falls pregnant with her third child. She’ll then be faced with a stark choice. Either to fall further into poverty with a third child, or opt for a termination – something that isn’t even possible in Northern Ireland.
“This has to be one of the most dreadful ideas ever to come out of this government. Ministers must see sense, call time on these ill-thought-out plans and scrap the two child limit altogether.”
Notes to editors:
– “That means fighting against the burning injustice that if you’re born poor, you will die on average nine years earlier than others.” (Statement by Prime Minister Theresa May, 13 July 2016)
– Evidence provided by Turn2Us to the Work and Pensions Select Committee confirms this fear: “The most worrying trend that is emerging is pregnant women asking the call handler to undertake a benefit check to ascertain what they would be entitled to if they continue with the pregnancy, citing that the outcome will help them to decide whether they continue with the pregnancy or terminate it.”
– For further information on the policy and tax exemptions see here
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