Universal Credit and Working Tax Credit (Uplift)

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 4 February 2021.

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Photo of Stewart Stevenson Stewart Stevenson Scottish National Party

2. To ask the Scottish Government what discussions it has had with the United Kingdom Government regarding retaining the £20 uplift to universal credit and working tax credit. (S5O-04986)

Photo of Shirley-Anne Somerville Shirley-Anne Somerville Scottish National Party

The Scottish Government has written to the UK Government on five occasions with requests to make the £20 per week uplift permanent and to extend it to legacy benefits. Most recently, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance wrote to the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer on 27 January, calling on the UK Government to announce the retention and expansion of the uplift in the March budget. Analysis by the Scottish Government indicates that cutting that support would move 60,000 people, including 20,000 children, into relative poverty in Scotland. We will continue to urge the UK Government to make the required changes to ensure that the benefit process works for the people who need support and not against them.

Photo of Stewart Stevenson Stewart Stevenson Scottish National Party

The Resolution Foundation said that, if the uplift is cut, 1.2 million people in the UK will fall into relative poverty. The cabinet secretary has just highlighted that 20,000 children in Scotland would be affected. Does she therefore agree that, notwithstanding silence or failure to respond to five communications, each and every one of us should make every possible effort to draw the UK Government’s attention to this catastrophe that is affecting too many of our young people and families in need right across the UK, particularly in Scotland?

Photo of Shirley-Anne Somerville Shirley-Anne Somerville Scottish National Party

I agree with Stewart Stevenson that we all need to make every effort to persuade the UK Government about that. We have consistently called for the change, but I am also encouraged by the calls from across the political spectrum and third parties. For example, the all-party parliamentary group on poverty, which is co-chaired by a Conservative member of Parliament, this week published a report calling on the UK Government to maintain the £20 per week uplift and to scrap the benefit cap. There is wide support for that, because people recognise and understand the impact that not doing it will have on adults and children right across the UK. With that level of support, I hope that the UK Government will do the right thing and change tack.