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Monday, 09 October 2017

SNP Minister calls on Theresa May to end 'injustice' of so-called 'rape clause'

Written by Katrine Bussey

Scotland's Social Security Minister has challenged Theresa May to show "compassion" and end the "injustice" of the so-called rape clause.

Jeane Freeman, a former Labour adviser who is now an SNP MSP, launched a fierce attack on welfare changes brought in by the Conservatives at Westminster.

Of these she said the biggest "totem of injustice" was the so-called rape clause - a change which means women can no longer claim tax credits for more than two children, with an exception being applied for women who conceived as a result of rape.

Mr Freeman (pictured) hit out at the Tories, telling Mrs May: "How could you even let that happen? You have been in government for seven years and you didn't speak out?"

Recalling Mrs May had pledged to tackle injustice when she entered Downing Street, Ms Freeman said: "You want to tackle burning injustice - what bigger totem of injustice could there be than a system that dictates if you're a woman on a low income who has been raped, you need to fill in a form to get the financial support your child should be entitled to?"

She told Mrs May if she had "any compassion, any sense of integrity, any principles that put those you serve above your own ambition" she would act on this and other issues in the welfare system.

Ms Freeman hit out at the Conservatives, accusing them of "caring not a jot about the harm they do to our children, our families, the young and old" and treating benefit recipients as "scroungers and chancers".

She told the Prime Minister: "Stop the roll out of Universal Credit, end the six week wait for the first payment and fix the problems that have been known about since 2013.

"Stop the work capability assessment that sees people deemed fit to work when they are clearly so ill they cannot work, or need tailored support into work because of ill health or disability

"Stop sanctioning people's benefits, removing financial support and forcing more and more people to rely on foodbanks and emergency payments just to eat."

With some powers over social security now being devolved to Scotland, she confirmed the Best Start Grant being brought in for low income parents would include payments for "second and all subsequent children".

The new social security system will do "what a public service should do, serve the people of Scotland," she told the SNP conference in Glasgow.

Ms Freeman said: "In Scotland, we are re-setting the foundation of social security. A rights based system, invested in by all of us and for all of us - because not one of us know if the day will come when we too will need that support.

"A system that will exemplify - every day - the principles of dignity, fairness and respect.

"But we can only act where we have the powers to do so. We cannot fix every failure of the Tory UK government."

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