Raped mums could have to PROVE they were assaulted to claim tax credits

Reposted from the Mirror on line

Vow: George Osborne has promised to protect rape victims – but how will he do it?

Rape campaigners fear victims will have to prove they were violated to stop the Tories clawing back their tax credits.

The blunt warning has been sparked by the Budget’s £12bn sledgehammer of welfare cuts – which experts say will hit Britain’s poor hardest.

George Osborne is scrapping child tax credits, worth up to £2,780 for each youngster, for all but the first two children.

He insists any mum who has a third child due to rape ‘or other exceptional circumstances’ will still be paid the benefits.

But campaigners have told Mirror Online the Chancellor’s vow is full of holes and leaves more questions than it answers.

It’s because the government still hasn’t worked out how it’ll decide which women have been raped.

If the victims have to wait for their attacker to be convicted in court, many will be left high and dry.

Just 60% of rape cases brought to court end in a conviction – and that’s without counting the thousands of women too scared to approach police, or those who have their cases dropped.

Furious SNP MPs Alison Thewliss and Kirsten Oswald have slammed the move.

Ms Oswald claims it is ‘incredibly distasteful’ while Ms Thewliss said it left her ‘utterly furious’.

It’s the latest flaw to be revealed in the Tories’ welfare cuts.

And a tax credit loophole means thousands of existing 3-child families will be hit – despite Tory vows to protect them.

Rape Crisis spokesman Katie Russell said ‘at first sight’ the plan ‘seems unworkable’.

She added: “How will women who have had a third child as a result of rape be required to declare this sensitive information?

“How will their confidentiality be protected and upheld?

“If DWP staff are receiving such disclosures, what kind of specialist training and support will be provided to them?

“Will women be required to produce evidence that their child was conceived through rape and who will assess this evidence?”

“Many of the women we work with at Rape Crisis have only sought the kind of confidential, independent and specialist support we offer after years or even decades.

“They have sometimes never told even their partner or closest friends of their experiences.

Iain Duncan Smith
Fist pump: Iain Duncan Smith celebrating during the Tories’ Budget speech this week

“It seems unlikely that many sexual violence survivors will be willing to disclose to a Government official.”

She added Rape Crisis is ‘keen to understand the government’s thinking’ and see what’s brought forward.

The Treasury, Department for Work and Pensions and HMRC are all working together to figure out how the protection will work.

A Treasury spokesman said: “We are absolutely clear there needs to be adequate protection for victims of rape and other exceptional circumstances.

“The details of these protections will be set out in due course.”

But Sandra Horley CBE, chief executive of domestic violence charity Refuge, said similar protections for legal aid haven’t always worked.

She added: “Women experiencing domestic violence are often completely controlled by their partner, including their access to birth control.

“Some women are also raped and sexually assaulted on a regular basis.

“Whilst an exception to the tax credit changes for women who have been raped is welcome – how workable is this in reality?

“How will it be ascertained whether a woman has been raped? Will it require a conviction?”

“Will this tax credit exemption mean vulnerable women who have been raped are forced to re-live their ordeal to prove they deserve support?”

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