Women who have had a child as a result of being raped will now need to fill in an eight-page government form to prove it in order to receive tax credits.
Cuts introduced by former chancellor George Osborne will limit child tax credits to a family’s first two children, with the exception of children born as a result of rape.
The extensive form, seen for the first time today, has been widely criticised for forcing women to relive the trauma of being raped.
Alison Thewliss MP said: ‘From today women will need to prove that their child was conceived as a result of rape – just in order to claim tax credits. It is one of the most appalling, disgraceful and demeaning policies ever to emanate from Whitehall and should never have seen the light of day, let alone the statute books.
‘At every turn, Ministers have tried to quietly implement this policy under the radar, knowing how unworkable and immoral it is.
‘It is scandalous that this policy was rail-roaded through Parliament without a vote or debate and it’s simply not good enough that the Government has promised MPs an opportunity to consider this when Parliament returns after Easter.’
A spokesperson for Rape Crisis said: ‘Rape Crisis England & Wales remains concerned about the requirement for women to have to disclose their experience of rape to the DWP /HMRC in order to claim exemption from the two child limitation on child tax credit and universal benefits.
‘In the absence of self-certification, Rape Crisis Centres in England & Wales, if they choose, can advocate on behalf of sexual violence survivors as they are recognised as a specialist organisation.
‘RCEW will monitor this policy closely as it is rolled out and collate feedback about its implementation and impact on women.’
Other responses to the introduction of the form have been damning:
— Martin Docherty MP (@MartinJDocherty) April 6, 2017
Somebody at the DWP had the job of putting together this list. Imagine being refused and having to appeal and go into detail about this? pic.twitter.com/4u8HW3pVT8
— Ben Powell (@Benpowelluk) April 6, 2017
How utterly disgusting. This is the form the Tories want rape victims to complete to get Tax Credits for a 3rd child https://t.co/MoYOK754AS
— Joe Cullinane (@jcullinane86) April 6, 2017
The new rules require women to prove: ‘you did not, or could not, consent to the act that led to the conception of the child’ or ‘you were in a coercive or controlling relationship with the other parent of the child at or around the time of the conception.’
If there has not been a criminal conviction of rape, the form will need to be signed off by a healthcare professional or specialist support worker.
This third-party person will have to confirm that ‘the claimant’s circumstances are consistent with it being likely that the claimant conceived through an act by another person to which the claimant did not agree by choice’ or that ‘the claimant’s circumstances are consistent with it being likely that the claimant conceived through an act by another person to which the claimant lacked the freedom or capacity to agree by choice.’
A spokesman said on behalf of HMRC and the Department of Work and Pensions: “It’s absolutely right that we have the right exemptions in place and we have thought carefully about how we will work with charities and health and social care professionals to support victims of rape.”