SCOTTISH families impacted by the two child benefit cap have slammed the policy as “unfair”, with some parents describing “feeling like a failure” and having to go without food.

It comes as Keir Starmer refused to commit to scrapping the Tory policy – which prevents parents from claiming child tax credit or universal credit for any third or subsequent child born after April 2017 – if his Labour party win power.

This has prompted outrage from within and outwith his own party, including Scottish Labour MSPs.

The group's leader and deputy leader, Anas Sarwar and Jackie Baillie, called the policy "heinous" but also that Starmer is right to keep it in place due to economic concerns.

Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) – a charity who ran a survey speaking to families across Scotland about the impact of the cap – described it as “brutal” and called on all UK political leaders to commit to scrapping it “as a matter of utmost urgency”.

One Scottish mother to four children said she simply can’t afford to live because of the cap.

She added: “I was working full time up until Covid hit. Now I can’t afford to live! My husband works long hours to try to keep us afloat but it’s just not enough.

“Four children to feed and I can’t afford to go to work myself. Such a rubbish situation to be in.”

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Marion Davis, head of policy at One Parent Families Scotland (OPFS) said it was often single mothers who are worst affected.

She said: “Children are often acutely aware of the hardship their family faces and sometimes try to protect their parents from the consequences of poverty. We know 44% of those affected are single mothers, many of whom are unable to take up paid work as the required childcare is not available.”

One single parent to three children said that fresh fruit and vegetables are now too expensive, and that they couldn’t afford to replace their 8-year-old’s jacket after it was lost at school.

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They added: “I have no money. I pay our bills and do our food shopping but there's nothing left. There's no days out, no fresh fruit and vegetables. I have to constantly ask my mum to bail us out.

“I work as much as I can casually for the council. I can't afford childcare so I have to rely on babysitters, so it can be as little as 4 hours a month! It's depressing. I am depressed, constantly stressed and really feel like a failure to my own children.

“I shouldn't have to say no to a treat once a month, something as simple as a sweet at the shop. That's before we have Christmas and birthdays. What do you buy when the budget is zero, when your choice is between basics and a gift? Children understand birthdays, they understand Santa but they don’t understand poverty and they shouldn't have too.”

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Another single mother to three children said she didn’t even know about the benefit cap.

She added: “My third baby was very unexpected but it was a blessing. We try to get through week to week. As long as the children are fed, watered and loved – that’s all that matters to me. Even if I can’t feed myself some days.”

Research commissioned by the SNP found that the cap has affected more than 80,000 children in Scotland in the last year.

Since 2017, when the cap came into force, it has cost families in Scotland £341.3 million.

SNP MP Kirsten Oswald said that if Keir Starmer continues to impose it, “the pro-Brexit Labour Party will be directly responsible for pushing thousands of Scottish children into poverty.”

John Dickie, director of CPAG in Scotland, said: “Families are experiencing real and sustained hardship as a direct result of the UK government’s two-child limit. It’s a brutal policy driving children into poverty as a policy choice.

“All UK political leaders need to commit to scrapping it at source as a matter of utmost urgency. In the meantime we urge the Scottish Government to mitigate it through additional payments of the Scottish Child Payment before it does more damage to children and to family life.”