Campaign groups and charities have called for the UK government to scrap its policy of withholding certain benefit amounts from families with more than two children.
The Child Poverty Action Group has detailed some of the negative effects that the policy can have and suggested that it is having a significant impact on the finances of families across the country, including in Scotland.
According to the organisation’s report, almost all families who’ve been affected by the benefit policy have found themselves having to cut back on essential purchases with their benefits having been reduced.
The policy was introduced in April 2017 and determines that universal credit and tax credit money should not be made available to parents in relation to their third, fourth or fifth children, regardless of how much they might need that extra financial help.
For a lot of people, the situation and the reduction in benefits has meant not being able to buy foods, medications and clothes, or to cover the costs of heating bills.
That situation has contributed to high levels of stress and strained relationships among families who are struggling to get by without extra support once they’ve had more than two children.
Some women interviewed by the Child Poverty Action Group also said that the two-child limit on benefits represented a financial challenge for them in the context of abusive relationships they were trying to escape.
“We wouldn’t turn away a sick child from our hospitals or stop them going to school and yet the two-child limit denies families the support they need from our social security system when they experience tough times, trapping kids in poverty,” said Alison Garnham, chief executive of the Child Poverty Action Group.
Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has stated its support for the views expressed in the report looking at these issues.
“This is not a matter that can be solved by tinkering at the edges or exempting certain children,” said Nina Ballantyne from CAS in a statement. “The limit should be scrapped for all families.”
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Politicians planning to stand in the upcoming Holyrood elections are being urged to take action to help tackle key issues relating to poverty among families across Scotland.
The number of Scots struggling to keep a roof over their heads is sure to rise in the coming months as the impact of the pandemic continues to be felt.
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