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UK Government proposals to limit child tax credit, and the equivalent payment under Universal Credit, to no more than two children will place “a considerable burden on those least able to afford it”, the Scottish Minister for Social Security has said.

Scottish Minister for Social Security, Jeane Freeman, says she is “fundamentally opposed” to the “damaging” Tory policy, which she claims “fails to take into account individual circumstances” and warned the proposal would “further punish” families who are “already struggling”.

Families with three children face losing nearly £3,000 each year under the changes, with estimates suggesting the cuts could save the UK Government £1.6 billion by 2020/21.

The policy will initially affect over 600,000 families, rising to 3.7 million families once it is fully rolled out across the UK.

Jeane Freeman said: “Once again we are witnessing an agenda of cuts being put ahead of protecting low income families.

“I am fundamentally opposed to this policy in its entirety and have urged the UK Government to abandon the proposals, which will further punish families that are already struggling and in need of additional income through child credits or Universal Credit.

“This blanket policy fails to take into account individual circumstances and applies no sensitivity whatsoever – for instance, to women who have been raped. As it stands under these proposals a woman would be forced to disclose being raped in order to access social security support for her child and I find this completely unacceptable.

“Our approach towards social security and the role it plays in society could not be more different to that of the UK Government.

“We have committed to using our new social security powers to build a system based on dignity and respect, which will help remove the stigma attached to accessing benefits.

“The impact of changes to benefits and tax credits over the last few years is a considerable burden on those least able to afford it and continues to push more and more people into poverty at the very time we are working to lift people out of poverty.

“The UK Government must rethink this damaging policy.”