How Scotland rejected Westminster cuts and chose a better path

Despite limited powers, the SNP Scottish Government took bold steps to set up a new Scottish social security system – with dignity, fairness and respect at the heart of everything it does.

Since we began making payments in 2018, Scotland’s social security system has made a real positive impact on families across the country.

Here’s how.

A new, fairer social security system with 13 benefits

Social Security Scotland now administers 13 benefits – seven of which are completely new and unique within the UK, such as the Scottish Child Payment, labelled by charities as a “game-changer” in our fight against poverty.

In 2022, to help families with the impact of the cost-of-living crisis, we’ve increased the Scottish Child Payment to £25 per week, per eligible child – five times the original amount that campaigners called for, and a 150% increase in just one year.

We’ve built this new system with, for and around the people who use it – guided by the fundamental belief that welfare is not a burden, but an investment in our people.

Strongest support for families with children anywhere in the UK

Recent report from CPAG (Child Poverty Action Group) shows that our policies are having a positive impact on reducing the financial challenges for families with children across Scotland.

Universal free school meals throughout primary school make the cost of bringing up a child £1,700 cheaper, whilst free bus travel saves £3,000 in the lifetime cost of a child in Scotland compared to England.

Apart from the “game-changing” Scottish Child Payment, our Best Start Grant provides eligible parents or carers with financial support during the key early years of a child’s life.

It includes the Pregnancy and Baby Payment – which provides families with £600 on the birth of their first child, and £300 on the birth of subsequent children – as well as the Early Learning Payment and the School Age Payment, to help with the costs associated with starting nursery and school.

Giving young people the best start in life

We have introduced the Job Start Payment, a new payment to help eligible young people with the costs associated with transitioning into employment.

It provides a payment of £250 – or £400 for a young person with children – to those aged 16-24 who have been out of work, helping to meet costs such as clothing, travel or lunches before receiving their first salary.

That’s on top of our actions to give every young person the chance to thrive – from free university tuition, to record high support for college students and our Young Person’s Guarantee.

A better deal for carers

Under the old UK system, Carer’s Allowance was the lowest of all working benefits.

As soon as new social security powers were devolved to Scotland, we introduced the Carer’s Allowance Supplement – which puts around £460 extra each year into carers’ pockets compared to carers in the rest of the UK.

We’re also doing more to deliver for young carers with the Young Carer Grant – a benefit unique to Scotland that gives £326.65 a year to 16-18 year olds who care for someone at least 16 hours each week.

Across Scotland, carers continuously in receipt of Carer’s Allowance have received over £2,000 more than carers in the rest of the UK, since we introduced it in 2018.

Meanwhile, the UK government is imposing more cuts and a costly Brexit…

Almost almost thirteen years of brutal Tory austerity and a hard Brexit that Scotland never voted for, people and communities are facing real hardship – the price of Westminster control.

According to the OBR, the UK government’s own financial body, the economic hit of Brexit is twice as bad as that of Covid.

Child poverty soared to its highest level since before World War Two, although child poverty in Scotland is lowest in the UK.

More than 2,000 food banks across the UK have opened as a direct consequence of Tory cuts – although in Scotland, thanks to our progressive policies such as the Scottish Child Payment, demand for food banks has fallen.

As a result of these damaging policies, the UK’s economy is now the worst performing in the G7.

Tory welfare cuts have been slammed by the UN special rapporteur – who also praised Scotland’s different approach

Leading UN poverty expert, Prof. Philip Alston, accused the UK government in his report of “systematic immiseration of a significant part of the British population” – comparing the Tory welfare policies to the creation of 19th-century workhouses.

In the same report, Alston said the Scottish welfare system is “thriving” – with Scotland on “a very different trajectory” to the rest of the UK in its approach to social security.

Scotland cannot afford being tied to damaging Westminster governments

Thanks to Tory cuts, in-work poverty has risen to record levels in this century.

According to the Child Poverty Action Group, 72% of children in families struggling to afford food have at least one parent who works.

Under Westminster control, Scotland is paying a heavy price – with the UK suffering the worst levels of poverty and inequality out of neighbouring countries, while small independent nations, like Ireland, Belgium or Denmark perform significantly better.

With the limited powers of devolution, we’re already doing what we can to tackle poverty – but just imagine how much more could be done with the full powers of independence.

With independence, a better future is possible

As a normal, independent country, we can have governments that always act in the best interests of people who live and work in Scotland and that strive for a better society – free from the damaging Tory governments that the people of Scotland consistently reject.

Scotland is big enough, rich enough and smart enough to thrive with independence.

Scotland must have the choice. Click here to pledge your support.