Campaigners called for the government to scrap the two-child limit on benefits after official figures showed that nearly 600,000 children were affected by the controversial policy. The government has championed the policy, which will cut the benefits bill by £1bn a year by 2021, as an incentive for people on benefits to work.
On 21 September 2019, Reclaim the Agenda and Women’s Aid Federation NI organised a protest in Belfast City Centre against the latest welfare cuts that target low income families.
Hundreds showed to support the cause including women sector and centre workers, Alliance for Choice, Belfast Feminist Network, Reclaim the Night, Trade Unions, Amnesty International, NICCY, NUS-USI and individuals.
The #ScrapTheCap protest called for the public to join the women’s movement and stand up to the UK government’s ‘two child cap’ policy that restricted tax credits and Universal Credit to a maximum of two children per family. The government had also put in place a ‘rape clause’ which is an exemption for any woman who can prove to a 3rd party assessor that she had become pregnant as a result of rape, including a stipulation that she must name the child conceived in this way on the application form. This is particularly problematic in Northern Ireland with our laws regarding crime disclosure.
In March 2020, speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Boris Johnson acknowledged the injustice and said: “We will do everything we can to rectify it”.
The government then did a 'U-turn' meaning the Two Child Limit will no longer be applied to children born before April 2017, as had been the plan, and the Economic Affairs Committee proposed a series of major changes to Universal Credit, including scrapping the two-child-limit in a report published on 31 July 2020.
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