ALEX Salmond has said Humza Yousaf should step in to mitigate the impact of the two-child benefit cap in Scotland.

Research commissioned by the SNP found the measure originally brought in by ex-Tory chancellor George Osborne in 2017 has affected more than 80,000 children in Scotland in the last year.

The analysis by the House of Commons Library also determined that an additional 20,000 children in Scotland were placed into poverty as a result of the benefits cap.

Now former first minister Salmond has insisted it is down to Yousaf to “uphold the traditional Scottish values of community and compassion” by mitigating its effects.

He says this wouldn't represent the Scottish Parliament being used as a "sticking plaster" for damaging Westminster policies. 

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The Scottish Child Payment has already been brought in by the Scottish Government which sees eligible families receive a weekly payment of £25 for every child under 16.

Last week, a director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies said Scottish welfare reforms represent a  “really quite significant” change in the way low-income families were being supported by the state and this was "not really appreciated". 

Back in 2014, Salmond’s Government struck a deal with the then Labour opposition to back his Scottish Government’s Budget which effectively ended the bedroom tax in Scotland by fully mitigating the impact of the welfare reform which affected almost 80,000 Scottish households. 

Salmond, now leader of the Alba Party, has now urged the First Minister to do likewise again to effectively end the two-child benefit cap in Scotland.

The National: Humza Yousaf has been called upon to mitigate the two-child benefit capHumza Yousaf has been called upon to mitigate the two-child benefit cap (Image: Newsquest)

He said: “This wouldn’t be about using the Scottish Parliament as a sticking plaster to protect Scots from the abhorrent policies of Westminster but rather a means of showing that there is a new administration in town that seeks to show the people of Scotland that when the Scottish Parliament makes decisions about their welfare they will always be better decisions than those made by Westminster.” 

Labour have caused uproar this week after Keir Starmer confirmed on Sunday his party would not scrap the rule.

Labour MSPs Monica Lennon and Mercedes Villalba were among those in Labour who condemned the move, with the former suggesting party members should fight against Starmer’s agenda.

The Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland estimates the cost of abolishing the two-child limit across the UK would be £1.3 billion.

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That would lift 250,000 children out of poverty - up to 15,000 of them in Scotland - the group says.

The estimated cost of fully mitigating the policy in Scotland would be around £85m, the Alba Party says.

Salmond said the Scottish Government could pay for this by striking a deal with councils in Scotland to increase the funding received for discretionary housing payments. 

He said: “The Scottish Government already provinces funding through discretionary housing payments - that is how we mitigated the unacceptable hardship of Westminster’s bedroom tax.

“If the Scottish Government added a further £85m in funding this would mean that, if you are affected by the two-child benefit cap, just like those that were affected by the bedroom tax, you could simply apply to your local authority for a discretionary housing payment and you should get one. 

“If Scotland took this approach we wouldn’t need to wait for a new Scottish benefit to be created by Social Security Scotland and the two-child cap could be fully mitigated in Scotland with money in the pockets of hard pressed families by the end of August.”