SCOTLAND’S Social Security Secretary has been criticised after insisting she will not find the money to offset the so-called ‘rape clause’, despite repeatedly deploring its impact.

Shirley Anne-Somerville said the responsibility lay squarely with the UK Tory Government which introduced the policy, and SNP ministers would not provide a financial fix.

In an interview with the Times, she also ducked a question on whether she had even asked Finance Secretary Derek Mackay for money to mitigate the benefit curb.

Scottish Labour accused Mr Somerville of being too stubborn to fix a “callous policy”.

Since April 2017, child tax credits have been limited to the first two children in any family.

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There is an exemption for mothers with another child conceived by rape or during a coercive relationship, but to claim the extra benefit women must declare what happened on a form.

Critics say it forces them to relive the trauma in order to support their families.

The Scottish Government estimates that by 2020-21, it would cost £92m a year in Scotland to offset the two-child limit, including the rape clause element.

However, despite condemning the rape clause vociferously, it has refused to mitigate it.

The Scottish Government does mitigate the so-called bedroom tax.

Asked why her government was not acting to spare women the indignity of the clause, Ms Somerville said it would cost £3.7bn by 2020-21 to offset every Tory welfare cut in Scotland.

She said: “People are calling for us to mitigate but we are taking this as far as we can at this point. It’s not our policy to alleviate the two-child cap.”

Asked how she could oppose mitigating the rape clause when she appeared not to know the cost of doing so, she replied: “Well, I know there is no additional money in the Scottish budget. I think we need to continuously push to get these things dealt with at source rather than the assumption being that we can mitigate against this.”

Asked if she had asked Mr Mackay for the funds to mitigate the rape clause, she said: “I don’t think you can set one cabinet secretary against another. We are all frustrated. We would all want to do more.”

Put to her that the SNP preferred not to act because it left the rape clause as a political tool to beat the UK government, she replied: “I don’t get any pleasure from this at all. But I also won’t stop, because the responsibility lies in Westminster to see the the damage that policy is creating.”

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Scottish Labour Social Security spokesperson Mark Griffin MSP said: “This stubborn refusal of the SNP to take action on the two child cap will exasperate people across Scotland.

“The 2016 Scotland Act delivered new powers to our parliament that allows for the creation of new social security payments for people in Scotland.

“If the SNP government wanted to, it could effectively end the cap and scrap the rape clause, and do what we can to reverse the devastating effects of this callous policy.

“Instead, ministers are refusing to do so, despite the Scottish Parliament taking action on the bedroom tax and housing benefit cuts.

“This inconsistency will infuriate people across the country who want to see the government using its powers to protect people.”