Challenge Poverty Week

To mark the beginning of Challenge Poverty Week, the SNP has called again on the Tories to make the Universal Credit increase permanent and extend it to legacy benefits, following a new report.

The report, published today by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, sets out how the UK government must do more to match Scottish Government efforts in tackling poverty – including maintaining the temporary £20 increase to Universal Credit, which they say has been a lifeline for millions, beyond April 2021 and extending it to all legacy benefits.

The SNP Scottish Government has delivered almost 96,000 affordable homes since 2007 with plans to deliver more, announced £100 million to support people looking for work or at risk of redundancy and rolled out the game-changing Scottish Child Payment which could support up to 194,000 children this year.

SNP MPs have also repeatedly urged the UK government to make Universal Credit advance payments non-repayable grants instead of loans, whereby advance payments become non-repayable grants once the claimant has been deemed eligible for Universal Credit.

This would take away the need to reverse the five-week wait, which the DWP has said would be “operationally challenging” and prevent people from falling into, or further into, debt

Commenting, Neil Gray MP (pictured) said:

“This report is very welcome at the start of Challenge Poverty Week and at a time when the need for further UK government action to tackle child poverty has never been greater. 

“As the Joseph Rowntree Foundation have highlighted, the UK government must start matching Scottish Government efforts if they are serious about tackling child poverty – and they should start by extending the furlough scheme and making the £20 increase to Universal Credit permanent, as well as extending it to legacy benefits. This could lift 25,000 children out of poverty.

“Taking this action would be a good first step in rebuilding the social security net but far more needs to be done if they are to make up for the damage caused by ten years of brutal austerity cuts – including scrapping the five week wait, benefit cap, two-child cap and the sanctions regime – which all exacerbate child poverty – and urgently rolling out an emergency basic payment to help families in financial difficulty.

“With unemployment rising and people’s working hours and incomes being cut back, it is more pressing than ever that the proper financial support is forthcoming.

“If the Tories fail to act, the inequality gap will widen, people will fall into or further into debt and hardship, and millions will face or continue to live in poverty.”