Our Man In Westminster: Universal Credit has never offered sufficient support
Get the Inverness Courier sent to your inbox every week and swipe through an exact replica of the day's newspaper
In Scotland, we’ve seen new work to challenge poverty through new help for families and those on low incomes, including the adult disability payment, the Scottish child payment, carer’s allowance and supplement on top of a range of universal support aimed at providing fairness and dignity across the board, such as free prescriptions and much more, writes MP Drew Hendry.
About 85 per cent of powers over social security are still reserved to Westminster though, including Universal Credit – the principal social security payment.
I’ve talked a lot about it since becoming your MP in 2015, as it has never done the job of providing sufficient support for those who have been entitled to it, and Westminster’s Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) handling of it has been both chaotic and mean spirited, despite the best efforts of local DWP staff.
The pandemic, however, has seen many more forced to claim, and the Tories were forced, early in 2020, to recognise what we all knew here, having endured it as a pilot area, that the rate it paid was simply too little to live on. Payments were increased by £20 per week.
I, and many others, welcomed the recognition of the inadequacy of the payments.
Pre-pandemic, around 50 per cent of claimants were already below the poverty line. Struggling to feed families, pay rent, heat their homes, buy clothes for their kids.
Nothing has changed since 2020, other than electricity, fuel and food costs have increased.
Despite this, Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak is about to remove that £20 uplift. Why? Purely for the politics of it. Their government is ideologically positioned.
Questioned about this cut, the Prime Minister is quoted as saying: “My strong preference is for people to see their wages rise through their efforts.”
Mr Sunak is about to remove that £20 uplift, all while his government are recruiting up to 15,000 new work coaches, as they’re anticipating a significant spike in unemployment.
This isn’t just an unemployment issue; again, almost half the people on Universal Credit are already in work.
A hundred established social groups, including Save the Children, Citizens Advice and Joseph Rowntree, have begged the UK government to cancel this reckless cut, of over £1000 per year, to hard-pressed families.
The consequences will be devastating for them.
I’m working, across parties, to get the UK government to scrap this cut.
Register your support at rejectthecrunch.com.