THE Scottish Greens have called the two-child benefit cap "punishing and cruel" after the Prime Minister announced the Conservatives would keep the policy if they win the next election.

Charities have called for the abolition of the cap, which restricts Universal Credit support to two children in a family, pointing to record levels of child poverty in the UK.

Writing in The Sun On Sunday, Rishi Sunak (below) committed his party to keeping the policy.

The National: Rishi Sunak

He said: “Working families do not see their incomes rise when they have more children. Families on benefits should be asked to make the same financial decisions as those supporting themselves solely through work.”

The commitment follows Sunak’s speech on Friday in which he set out reforms of the welfare system to reduce the number of people receiving benefits and bring spending down.

The number of people claiming at least one health-related benefit has soared since the pandemic, with one in 10 people now receiving support, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

READ MORE: Scottish Government responds to Rishi Sunak's 'heartless' benefits proposals

In his Sun On Sunday article, the Prime Minister said: “There is nothing compassionate about consigning people who could work to a life trapped on benefits.

“We will change the system so that we are giving people a hand up rather than a hand-out.”

Scrap the cap for good

Responding to the latest announcement from Sunak, the Scottish Greens condemned the "punishing and cruel" legacy of the Government following "14 years of terrible Tory misrule".

The party's justice and equality spokesperson, Maggie Chapman (below), said: “The two-child benefit cap and associated rape clause is one of the most punishing and cruel legacies of 14 years of terrible Tory misrule. It has penalised a lot of the most vulnerable people and has plunged hundreds of thousands of children and families into totally avoidable poverty.

The National: Maggie Chapman

“The Prime Minister can’t claim ignorance. He knows all about the devastating impact that the cap is having. So does Sir Keir Starmer, and it is shameful that he has not pledged to abolish it.

“We could be months away from having a Labour government. I hope that they will seize the opportunity to create a fairer and system based on human dignity, solidarity and providing hope, security and relief to people who need it.

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"The first step they can take is committing to scrapping the cap for good."

Chapman added: “The Scottish Greens have used our influence in Scotland to help in building a more humane system, with the expansion of the groundbreaking Scottish Child Payment, free bus travel for young people and action to mitigate brutal benefit cuts.


Child poverty is not inevitable. It is a moral disgrace


"These are all important changes that Labour should commit to replicating across the UK, but they are not enough."

Chapman added that Scottish independence would give Holyrood more power over its welfare system.

“With the powers of independence there is so much more that we could do to end Westminster’s attacks on social security," she said.

“Child poverty is not inevitable. It is a moral disgrace, and we must use every power we have to end it.”

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Campaigners have criticised Sunak for using “hostile rhetoric” and launching a “full-on assault on disabled people” with his plans for welfare.

Responding to Sunak’s commitment to the two-child cap, Child Poverty Action Group chief executive Alison Garnham said: “With child poverty at a record high, the Prime Minister has now clearly decided that making kids poor is his political priority.

“After Covid and the cost-of-living crisis, struggling families need a helping hand not another kick in the teeth.

“The two-child limit makes life harder for kids, punishing them for having brothers and sisters. It’s time to scrap this nasty policy.”

Official statistics published in March showed child poverty hit record highs last year, with 4.33 million children living in households in relative low income in the year to March 2023.

For a couple with two children, this meant a combined weekly income of less than £530 after housing costs.

One in four children are considered to be in absolute poverty, defined as households below 60% of the median income in 2010/11, uprated by inflation, equivalent to less than £485 a week after housing costs for a couple with two children.