Tale of Two Governments on Social Security

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UK Gov Universal Credit Cuts While Scot Gov Invests Billions

New research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has revealed that more than one in three families with children in Scotland (37%) will lose £1,040 per year if the Tory UK Government goes ahead with cuts to Universal Credit next month.

This would mean slashing the incomes of 400,000 people across Scotland. Here in Angus, 3,620 families with children (39%) are in receipt of Universal Credit or working tax credits – and 7,300 families in total.

Despite a growing rebellion of Tory MPs in England joining the SNP and anti-poverty campaigners in opposition to the move, Scottish Tory Health spokesperson Craig Hoy MSP went on BBC Good Morning Scotland to defend the cuts.

SNP Westminster MPs, including the party’s Commons leader Ian Blackford, visited a Trussell Trust foodbank in Glasgow before going door-knocking in the city to raise awareness – part of a day of action against the Tory policy.

It comes at the same time as the SNP Scottish Government, in stark contrast, announced that social security expenditure in Scotland will total £5.2 billion in 2026-27 – as spend is projected to increase by £1.5 billion over the course of this Parliament.

This is down to a variety of factors including an increase in benefits provided, inflationary rises to payments, Scotland’s ageing population increasing caseloads for certain payments, and more children and working-age people receiving disability benefits.

It is expected that more people will access financial support in the coming years as the Scottish Government continues the roll out of devolved benefits. This includes Adult Disability Payment, which will replace Personal Independence Payment for disabled people of working age in Scotland in 2022.

The Scottish Child Payment will also be extended to children up to the age of 16 from the end of next year, if data relating to this benefit is received from the Department for Work and Pensions.

– Graeme 

It is frankly a disgrace that Scottish Tories continue to back these devastating cuts to Universal Credit when even an increasing number of their Conservative colleagues down south can’t stomach them.

This will hurt thousands of families here in Angus and hundreds of thousands across Scotland – deliberately making people worse off in a UK already suffering from the worst poverty and inequality in Western Europe thanks to such policies.

While it could not be clearer that the Tories have no intention of building a fair recovery from COVID, progressive policies of the SNP Scottish Government are ensuring necessary investment in social security – in people.

This is a government absolutely committed to doing what it can with its limited powers and resources to ensure financial support for those entitled to it.

– Social Security Minister, Ben Macpherson 

Social security is an investment in the people of Scotland and is a fundamental human right. With the devolved social security powers and limited resources that we have, we are committed to making sure everyone can access the financial support they are entitled to.

By understanding people’s experiences of accessing UK Government social security support, we have sought to ensure that our new Scottish Government service is easily accessible and that people have a good experience when interacting with the Scottish social security system. If someone is eligible for support then it is our responsibility to make sure that they know about available payments, and help them get the money they need and that they are due.

As well as the introduction of our new disability benefits in 2021 and 2022, in the coming years, we will also introduce Scottish Carer’s Assistance, which will replace the UK Government’s Carer’s Allowance in Scotland.

In 2023-24 it is forecast that nearly 300,000 children will benefit from the Scottish Child Payment. This will be the first full year of the planned rollout of Scottish Child Payment to 6 to 15 year olds. We also plan to significantly increase the value of Scottish Child Payment, doubling it to £20 per week within the lifetime of the Parliament and lifting more children out of poverty.

It is vital that the UK Government matches our efforts. We need UK Ministers to take decisive action in the areas where they have power and responsibility and to reverse their welfare cuts which are hitting households harder than ever. I call again on the UK Government to end their benefit cap, bedroom tax and two-child limit, and to maintain the £20 Universal Credit uplift.

  • the full Scottish Fiscal Commission report can be read here: https://www.fiscalcommission.scot/publications/scotlands-economic-and-fiscal-forecasts-august-2021/
  • once fully operational, Social Security Scotland will make payments to 1.8 million children and adults – around one in three people in Scotland
  • in the three years since the Scottish Government has had the legislative powers to introduce social security benefits, 11 benefits have been introduced, including seven brand new benefits to support the people of Scotland
  • once fully operational Social Security Scotland will deliver 17 benefits in total – 6 more than originally planned