Questions remain unanswered on rape clause and two child policy

SNP MP Alison Thewliss has spoken of her “utter disappointment” following her meeting today (Thursday 19th May) with Lord Freud, Minister of State for Welfare Reform, at the Department of Work & Pensions.

Following months of campaigning, Prime Minister David Cameron finally relented and organised a meeting between the SNP MP and his Welfare Reform Minister, which took place this morning.

Ms Thewliss had just forty-five minutes to question Freud and his officials on their “draconian” plans for a rape clause and two child policy which she said was “tantamount to social engineering”.

Commenting after her meeting at the DWP’s Caxton House HQ in London, Ms Thewliss said:

“Today’s meeting was one of the most frustrating and soul destroying meetings I’ve ever had to endure in my nine years of elected public office, first as a Councillor and now as an MP.

“Lord Freud showed no compassion for the vulnerable women and families who will be subjected to some of the most draconian welfare reforms in the world, reforms which are tantamount to social engineering.

“The Prime Minister himself conceded the Government had “more to do” on this policy, and promised that they would consult on this. When I pressed the Minister, it turns out that the Government have consulted just four organisations on a policy which will cause unimaginable pain and distress to victims of rape.

“This Government clearly does not appreciate that the majority of rapes happen within abusive relationships, and that pushing women to claim could place them and their children in a very dangerous position. During the course of the meeting, Lord Freud suggested that women should “just flee”, without appreciating how incredibly difficult that can be. This comes at the same time when women’s refuges are under threat by Tory cuts to housing benefit. That is simply unacceptable and confirms my worst fears that this is the most uncaring, heartless and cruel UK Government yet.

“On restricting tax credits to the first two children in a family, Lord Freud made great play of the fact that 85% of families have two or less children, therefore this policy would only impact a small minority of people. He couldn’t answer why the Government is legislating to attack such a small minority. He confirmed that he had not consulted with any religious groups, who may be disproportionately affected by the restriction.

“I was further appalled to hear that they have no intention of protecting eligibility to tax credits for families composed of children from previous relationships, which further undermines the Government’s much vaunted ‘family test’.

“I am absolutely gutted by this Tory Government’s lack of compassion, but I will continue the fight to end to this policy. It’s just a shame that the UK Government are so hell bent on pushing ahead with this that they’ll be as obstructive as possible.”

Thewliss takes rape clause fight to DWP HQ

SNP MP, Alison Thewliss, will today (Thursday 19th May) meet with Lord Freud, UK Minister for Welfare Reform, at the Department for Work & Pension’s Caxton House HQ in London.

Further stepping up her campaign against the Government’s proposed rape clause and two child policy, Ms Thewliss will use the meeting – organised by the Prime Minister – to put forward a list of unanswered questions to the Government which, she says, “demonstrate the policies to be unworkable, let alone immoral”.

Commenting in advance of her meeting with Lord Freud, Alison Thewliss MP said:

“It is now ten months since I first raised concerns about the Tories plans to limit tax credits and introduce a rape clause, and I’m determined to keep pursuing this. The Government cannot be allowed to get away with implementing policies that are tantamount to social engineering.

“I’ve met and spoken with a number of women’s welfare and rape crisis organisations over recent months and it is clear that vulnerable women and families are deeply worried about the impact these cruel and draconian policies will have on them.

“Ministers at every level of Government, including the Chancellor and Prime Minister, have assured me that they realise this policy needs looked at again. We’ve been promised a consultation but, as yet – and not for lack of asking – we’ve still got no detail as to how or when the consultation will be undertaken, who will be consulted, how long it will run for and when it will report.

“The policy doesn’t need consultation – it needs binned. The fact that the Government has thus far been unable to answer basic questions demonstrate the policies to be as unworkable as they are immoral.”

Davidson urged to be a “strong opposition” to Tories’ rape clause and two child policy

Scots Tory Leader, Ruth Davidson, has been challenged to put up a “strong opposition” to her own party’s draconian welfare reforms at Westminster.

SNP MP Alison Thewliss has written to Ruth Davidson following her party’s Holyrood election boost, saying that it’s ‘time to stand up for vulnerable women and families’ by opposing the UK Tories proposed rape clause and two child policy.

Commenting, Ms Thewliss said:

“The Scottish Conservative Party spent much of the recent election campaigning under a banner of being a “strong opposition” for Scotland.  I welcome scrutiny and constructive opposition, but Ruth Davidson needs to realise that being a strong opposition doesn’t extend just to Holyrood.

“If Ruth Davidson is serious about being an effective party leader, she can’t just be the UK Tory party’s ambassador for promoting inherently unfair policies in Scotland. Ms Davidson’s party is still absolutely hell bent on ramming through vile and draconian welfare policies, and it just underlines my view that they’re still the nasty party.

“Ruth Davidson has the opportunity to not only be a strong opposition, but to locate her moral compass, say no to penalising families and say no to demanding vulnerable women relive the trauma of being raped simply to claim tax credits.”