Rape clause ‘supports women’ claims UK Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey
Controversial 'rape clause' in tax credits provides women with "double support", claims Work and Pensions Secretary
Esther McVey - Scottish Parliament
UK Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey has said tax credits reforms which mean women can only receive payments for third or subsequent children if they prove they were born as a result of rape are “supportive”.
The policy has led to criticism that victims were being forced to relive their trauma just to receive tax credits.
Some assessors in Scotland have refused to implement the policy.
Speaking to Holyrood’s Social Security Committee, McVey suggested the women involved could actually benefit from the “extra help and support” from the experience.
“People will be supported and shown to the various other organisations - and again this could give them an opportunity to talk about maybe something that’s happened that they never had before,” she said.
“So, it’s potentially double support there - they’re getting the money they need and maybe an outlet they might possibly need.”
Green MSP Alison Johnstone said: “It’s potentially also invasive and upsetting if women are being forced to put on the record circumstance they wish to remain entirely private.”
McVey was heckled from the gallery for her response, and earlier after SNP MSP Ben McPherson asked McVey to apologise to those who had suffered financial hardship as a result of welfare reform, including the rollout of Universal Credit.
“I am not oblivious to people who are incredibly vulnerable or who are in need,” McVey said, adding the DWP spends £200bn a year in supporting people.
Following the meeting, Labour MSP Pauline McNeill said: “This was a disgraceful performance from a Work and Pensions Secretary who is completely out of touch with the reality of life for low income women on tax credits.
“To badge up the vile rape clause as some sort of virtuous policy to provide support is simply skin-crawling.”
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