LABOUR have been challenged to use a multi-billion-pound surplus projected in their manifesto costings to scrap the two-child benefit cap.

The SNP said Keir Starmer’s party had “no excuse” not to ditch the controversial benefits policy as its own calculations showed it could afford to do so.

The cap prevents people from claiming benefits for children after their first two, unless certain exemptions apply – such as being able to prove to the UK Government that the third or later child is a result of rape.

The policy, which is mitigated in Scotland through the Scottish Child Payment, is seen as a key driver of child poverty and scrapping it could lift 250,000 people above the poverty line.

However, Starmer has said that economic growth is his number one priority for an incoming Labour government and repeatedly refused to commit to scrapping the cap.

But the SNP have pointed to costings in Labour’s manifesto, which was published on Thursday, and said they show Starmer’s party “have the money to scrap the two-child limit”.

The Labour manifesto estimates that by 2028-2029, UK Government revenue will have increased by £7.35 billion due to their policies, such as increasing stamp duty on purchases of residential property by non-UK residents by 1%, applying VAT and business rates to private schools and closing non-dom tax loopholes.

Alongside this, Labour have laid out policies which will cost money, such as investment in HMRC to reduce tax avoidance and free breakfast clubs in every primary school. The total outlay is estimated at £4.84bn – including the Barnett consequentials that the spending would generate for devolved nations.

The SNP have highlighted that Labour’s own costings therefore have a surplus of around £2.5bn.

Cost estimates of scrapping the two-child benefit cap vary, with some saying it would cost £1.3bn annually and others estimating £2.5bn.

READ MORE: Labour to impose two-child benefit cap 'more fairly' than Tories, Keir Starmer says

SNP candidate for Glasgow North Alison Thewliss said: “If Labour’s sums are to be believed, and they are confident they will have a surplus of £2.5bn, then they must commit to using that money to scrap the Tories’ two-child cap and rape clause – there is now no excuse not to do it.

“Labour have the money to scrap the two-child limit but haven’t committed to it. This is a scandalous political decision.

“Experts have said that the two-child limit is a key driver of child poverty in the UK, and the associated rape clause makes women relive traumatic experiences – yet Labour U-turned on their pledge to scrap it saying there would be no money to do so. That’s no longer the case.

Alison Thewliss was the SNP MP for Glasgow Central before parliament was dissolved (Image: UK Parliament/Maria Unger)

“In the face of Westminster’s 14 years of austerity, Brexit and the cost of living crisis, the SNP Government is doing what it can to put money in families’ pockets and ensure children have equal opportunities through policies such as the Scottish Child Payment, the Baby Box, free school meals, free childcare and free tuition.

"But Westminster is undermining that with its cuts and austerity measures, and that won’t change under Labour.

“Vote SNP on July 4 to ensure Scotland has a strong team of MPs that will hold Labour to account for their lurch to the right, stand up for our values and always put Scotland’s interests first."

Labour have been approached for comment.