Tory government rejects petition to scrap the ‘rape clause’ for women on tax credits
More than 25,000 people had signed the bid to halt changes to tax credits which make women provide evidence to show they have had a child by rape
The Tory government has rejected a petition to scrap a policy dubbed the “rape clause”.
More than 25,000 people had signed the bid to halt changes to tax credits which make women provide evidence they had a child by rape – forcing them to revisit their ordeal.
But the petition was rejected by the government in a lengthy statement today by the Department for Work and Pensions.
Despite running to nearly 500 words, the statement did not include a key word – “rape”.
Instead it stuck to using the term “non-consensual conception” and talked of claimants “not being able to make the same choices” about having children.
The rule was introduced as part of a new regime that means claimants can only be paid tax credits for their first two children.
There are exceptions for twins, disabled children or children born of rape. But that means raped mums must prove their ordeal by providing “evidence” in an 8-page government form.
That prompted anger, with the SNP leading protests against the policy and raising it in Parliament.
The petition called for the entire policy to be scrapped because the rape exemption “cannot be delivered in a way that does not breach women’s rights and undermine women’s equality and safety”.
In its statement on the petition, the DWP said the policy overall “encourages” families to make the same financial decisions as those not claiming benefits.
It added: “Some claimants are not able to make the same choices about the number of children in their family as others.
“For that reason, there are a series of exceptions to the restriction.”
It said the implementation of the clause had already been consulted on with 50 organisations – and includes victims whose abuser has never been convicted in the courts.
For those claimants, the government will accept third-party evidence from a counsellor or case worker.
“The intention is to strike the right balance between ensuring claimants in these circumstances get the support they need in a not overly intrusive manner whilst at the same time providing the right assurance that the additional support is going to those for whom it is intended,” the DWP said.
But Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said: “A good Government also has a duty and responsibility to care for the vulnerable and treat its citizens with respect and dignity.
“Theresa May’s government has trashed that duty with the rape clause which shame’s women and condemns their children to poverty.
“The Prime Minister seems committed to bringing the nasty party back.”