The UK Government’s benefits payments which are capped at 2 children unless it can be claimed that the third and any other children were conceived due to rape – known as the rape clause – has been described by the Children’s Commissioners of Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland as ‘a clear breach of children’s human rights’ that “is inconsistent with the commitments made by the UK through the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child”.
The UK Parliament’s Work and Pensions Committee will today hear evidence from Bruce Adamson, Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland who will present the collective views of the Commissioners in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, that the efforts of their devolved governments to tackle child poverty are being restricted by UK benefits rules.
Bruce Adamson said:
“With more than a quarter of a million children affected, poverty is the most significant human rights issue facing children in Scotland. Living in poverty affects every aspect of a child’s life, including their educational attainment and mental and physical health.
“ The UK’s approach to poverty was examined in 2019 by the United Nations’ top expert on poverty and human rights who highlighted that it is political decisions by government that are leading to disastrous levels of poverty. When Professor Alston came to Scotland to meet with children and their families he heard from them about the serious impact that poverty is having on their human rights.
“Now after over a year of the Covid-19 pandemic, the situation for children in Scotland has become much worse.”
Bruce Adamson continued:
“The Scottish Government has taken some action to reduce the number of children in poverty including rolling out the Scottish Child Payment during the pandemic, however I remain concerned that children’s rights are continuing to be breached in Scotland by the two-child limit on child tax credit and universal credit. That is why we have taken the step of writing to the UK Government to urge that this policy is reversed.
“We will continue to hold our devolved governments to account in relation to their obligations to respect, protect and fulfil children’s rights, but these governments can only go so far in their efforts to ensure children and their families get the support they are entitled to while this discriminatory policy also remains in force at a UK level.”
“With the focus in the Queen’s speech in May 2021 on ‘levelling up’, there can be no excuse for continuing to breach children’s rights through this discriminatory policy that will continue to harm and prevent children and families from moving beyond the impact of the global pandemic.”