This week, six Tory MPs rebelled against Boris Johnson’s plans to cut Universal Credit by £20 a week for six million people. Not a single Scottish Tory was amongst them – once again proving the Tories cannot be trusted to stand up for families in Scotland.
Their refusal to stand up for families and protect the income of the most vulnerable in our society is just one example of the continuing callousness of Tory austerity.
In October, five Scottish Tory MPs voted against free school meals during the holidays, while their leader Douglas Ross missed the vote.
For many of the most vulnerable families, the £20 Universal Credit uplift has been a lifeline – but even then, a decade of Tory austerity and welfare cuts has meant that social security is still often not enough to stop families falling into debt simply to get by.
There has been widespread criticism and calls from campaigners for the UK government to make the £20 uplift permanent and extend it to legacy benefits. Here’s a summary.
“6.2 million families will face a £1,040 a year cut to their incomes in April”
Leading anti-poverty charity, The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, estimates that over 6 million of the most vulnerable families will see a £1,040 cut to their incomes in April.
It also warned the “incredibly tough situation millions are now facing” will be made worse, with families left in “crippling uncertainty” if the UK government continues delaying the decision.
Today parliament debated whether to #KeepTheLifeline of the £20 uplift to #UniversalCredit. As it stands, 6.2 million families will face a £1,040 a year cut to their incomes in April. This is not morally acceptable. The Government must do the right thing and #KeepTheLifeline pic.twitter.com/F0PwGMM7RF
— Joseph Rowntree Foundation (@jrf_uk) January 18, 2021
The Executive Director of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation told BBC Newsnight that the decision to increase Universal Credit by £20 a week was “a recognition that the UK government’s social security wasn’t providing the anchor that people should be able to rely on”
— Joseph Rowntree Foundation (@jrf_uk) January 19, 2021
“End uncertainty for millions of families”
Shelter also joined in the calls for the UK government to make the uplift permanent and give families the certainty and security they deserve.
Yesterday government said that a decision on the #UniversalCredit £20 uplift is yet to be made.
— Shelter (@Shelter) January 19, 2021
The Tory plans would “plunge 200,000 children into poverty”
Marion Davis, policy director at One Parent Families Scotland, said that the planned £20 cut to Universal Credit would plunge 200,000 children into poverty.
That’s on top of the at least 600,000 who have been pushed into poverty due to a decade of Tory austerity – meaning that over 4 million children across the UK are living below the breadline.
Marion Davis, policy director at @OPFS, tells MPs the end of the Universal Credit £20 uplift will plunge 200,000 children into poverty
— Dan O'Donoghue (@MrDanDonoghue) January 21, 2021
The £20 cut would “go against these deeply-held values that we all share”
The Poverty Alliance has said that not making the £20 uplift permanent, and not extending it to legacy benefits, would go against our values of “compassion, justice, and protecting one another from harm.”
Our society's values are ones of compassion, justice, and protecting one another from harm.@RishiSunak, to not make the £20 UC increase permanent – and to not extend the increase to legacy benefits – would go against these deeply-held values that we all share.#KeepTheLifeline https://t.co/HbEiPY0E1r
— Poverty Alliance (@PovertyAlliance) January 19, 2021
“Do the right thing, the keep the uplift and extend to legacy benefits”
As the UK government failed to oppose the motion in parliament, they must stop dithering and quickly deliver a statement on how they will act. Turn2us implored the UK government “to do the right thing, keep the uplift and extend to legacy benefits.”
After yesterday's #OppositionDayDebate, on whether to keep the £20 uplift to UC & Tax Credits, we are no closer to knowing if the government will or will not keep the uplift beyond March.
We implore the gov to do the right thing & the keep the uplift + extend to legacy benefits.
— Turn2us (@turn2us_org) January 19, 2021
People find themselves “less able to heat their home or put food on the table”
Anela Anwar, chief executive of Z2K, wrote in the Big Issue that those still on legacy benefits who do not currently benefit from the £20 uplift find themselves “less able to heat their home or put food on the table”
— The Big Issue (@BigIssue) January 19, 2021
Meanwhile, in Scotland we are taking a different, fairer approach
Our “game-changer” Scottish Child Payment, hailed by anti-poverty charities, is currently open for applications and will begin to roll out from February. Along with our Best Start Grant, it will provide vital support for families on low incomes, help tackle child poverty and mitigate some of the most damaging aspects of a decade of Tory austerity.
🏴 The Scottish Child Payment is the most ambitious anti-poverty measure being undertaken in the UK.
🗓 @Scotgov has brought delivery forward by almost 2 years for families with a child under 6, to counter the impact of Covid.
— The SNP (@theSNP) November 3, 2020
In addition to this, we’ve also invested over £100 million to protect vulnerable families from the worst of Westminster austerity – such as mitigating the callous bedroom tax.
Even within the restraints of limited powers, Scotland has taken a bold and different approach to our social security system – making sure that it truly there for everyone to use when we need it.
However, it’s clear that only with independence, can we truly build that stronger, fairer and more equal Scotland.