Women who get pregnant as a result of rape will have to fill in an eight-page form to prove it before being granted benefits, the government has announced.
The Department for Work and Pensions and HMRC are the two offices that will assess applications for tax credits for a woman’s third child, if it was conceived without their consent.
Cuts introduced by the former Chancellor George Osborne have come into effect today, meaning that child tax credits will be limited to two children per family.
Women who need to claim for a third child, born as a result of rape, are exempt - but will need to prove that either:
“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 conception.”
Potential claimants will also have to get the form signed off by by a nurse, social care worker or health care specialist.
The “third party’ will have to tick a box saying the mother’s “circumstances are consistent with it being likely” she was telling the truth about being raped.
In a joint statement, the DWP and HMRC said they recognised the handling of the exceptions was “extremely sensitive” but that it is “important to have an exception in place to support claimants in these circumstances”.
Despite the law change being passed back in January, the bluntness of the form sparked fresh anger among some today.
SNP MP Martin Docherty, whose party campaigned strongly against the “rape clause”, posted a picture of the form today and asked: “Dear God. What have we become?”
Others on social media reacted with similar disgust.
A Government spokeswoman said of the policy back in January: “Our welfare reforms are a key part of controlling public spending as we create an economy that works for everyone.
“This reform ensures people on benefits have to make the same choices as those supporting themselves solely through work.
“But we have always been clear this reform will be delivered in the most effective, compassionate way and we have consulted to ensure the right exceptions and safeguards are in place.”
- Rape Crisis services for women and girls who have been raped or have experienced sexual violence - 0808 802 9999
- Survivors UK offers support for men and boys - 0203 598 3898