Social Justice secretary Shona Robison (pictured) has made a heartfelt plea for the UK Government to scrap the ‘senseless and harmful’ withdrawal of the £20-a-week Universal Credit uplift.
She will condemn the proposed cut when she opens a debate in the Scottish Parliament today (Tuesday, 28 September) on the decision to remove the lifeline payment from 6 October.
Over six million people across the UK are set to lose more than £1,000 a year and it is estimated the cut risks pushing 60,000 people across Scotland, including 20,000 children, into poverty, and tens of thousands more into hardship.
The Scottish Government has written to the UK Government on eight occasions throughout the pandemic asking for them to make the uplift permanent and to extend it to legacy benefits.
Speaking ahead of the debate, Ms Robison said:
“The decision to withdraw the Universal Credit uplift is senseless and harmful, a hammer blow of hardship as we begin to emerge from the enormous social and economic disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It comes at a time of rising food and fuel bills, imminent increases in National Insurance payments and the end of the self-employment and furlough schemes.
“This is a conscious decision to remove support from people on the lowest incomes who rely upon this uplift as a lifeline to allow basic needs to be met.
“This will be the biggest overnight reduction to a basic rate of social security for over 70 years.
“Many of those who will lose out are unable to work due to ill health and disability and more than a third of Universal Credit recipients are already in work but rely on the payments to make ends meet.
“Last year we provided around £2.5 billion in support for people on low incomes, including almost £1 billion targeted at children, but our progress will be undermined by the UK Government’s hard-line approach.
“Analysis from the Scottish Government shows the cut to Universal Credit is set to reduce welfare expenditure in Scotland by over £460 million by 2023/24.
“This is the last chance UK Ministers have to reverse their harmful plan.
“I urge them to listen to the concerns of people who will be at the sharp end of this cut and keep the lifeline.
“I also call upon all colleagues across the Chamber to make their voices heard and the voices of their constituents heard in a unified call on the UK Government to do the right thing.”