THE Government’s “pernicious” two-child benefit policy will push another 200,000 children below the poverty line, according to new research.

Analysis by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) and the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) says the biggest group affected will be working families with three children, who will miss out on up to £2870 per year as a result.

Overall, across the UK upwards of 850,000 families with more than two children are likely to be affected, and most of those will have three children.

Families hit by the cut will include those who were not on universal credit when the children were born but who will need to claim in future because of an unforeseen change such as redundancy, ill-health, separation or even death of a parent.

Responding to the figures, John Dickie, director of CPAG in Scotland, said: “This is a particularly pernicious cut because it suggests some children matter more than others. It doesn’t make any sense either as no parent has a crystal ball. Families that can comfortably support a third child today could struggle tomorrow and have to claim universal credit.

“The reality is that health, jobs and relationships sometimes fail, however well parents plan.”

The only way in which a parent can receive benefits for a third child, is if that child is conceived through rape. A scathing House of Lords committee report published today said it seemed unlikely government would ever be able to make that work.

SNP MP Alison Thewliss said the Tories should ditch the “unworkable and medieval” policy.