Social Workers Voice Opposition to Universal Credit Cap and Rape Clause

Members of the Northern Ireland Association of Social Workers (NIASW) will join today’s protest in central Belfast in opposition to the Universal Credit two child cap and associated rape clause.

Speaking ahead of the rally organised by Reclaim the Agenda, Carolyn Ewart, NIASW Country Manager, said: “Social workers are outraged at the planned introduction of the Universal Credit two-child cap. Our members work daily with the most vulnerable and marginalised people in society and are acutely aware the cap will serve to increase the reach and deepen the impact of poverty here”.

The UK Department of Work and Pensions has included a number of exceptions to the two-child cap, including for children conceived as a result of a ‘non-consensual sexual act’. This is commonly referred to as the rape clause.

Applications made under the rape clause must be verified by a Government approved third party. Social workers are included on this list.

MS Ewart continued by saying: ‘It is morally wrong to subject a woman to disclose an incident of rape to a third party to access benefits. Doing so risks further traumatising the woman, stigmatising the child and increases the chance of the woman experiencing additional violence.’

Ms Ewart concluded by saying: “The rape clause highlights the crass austerity of the two-child cap, which is unbefitting a modern, just society. We look forward to joining our friends and colleagues at today’s rally to highlight all that is wrong with this morally bankrupt policy.”



Notes to Editors

  • Carolyn Ewart, NIASW Country Manager, will be available for interview.
  • The Northern Ireland Association of Social Workers (NIASW) is part of the British Association Social Work (BASW), which is the largest professional body for social workers across the UK. The Association has 22,000 members employed in frontline, management, academic and research positions in all care settings.
  • The two-child cap for Child Tax Credit came into force in Northern Ireland on 6 April 2017. The same cap will apply to the ‘child element’ of Universal Credit which is due to be rolled out in Northern Ireland on a phased geographical basis from September 2017 to September 2018
  • The Department for Work and Pensions notes exemptions to the two-child cap include payment of Child Tax Credit / Universal Credit for a third or additional child resulting from a multiple birth, adoption, or a child conceived as a result of a non-consensual sexual act.


Contact: Andy McClenaghan, Campaigns Officer

Phone: 028 9064 8873

Mobile: 07702 517560



Published : 21st September 2017

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