The UK Tory government’s Universal Credit cut: what you need to know

The UK government’s cut to Universal Credit will slash the incomes of over 480,000 families in Scotland overnight, in the biggest cut to social security since World War Two.

The evidence of just how cruel this cut is plain for all to see, but the Tories still choose to ignore it.

Here’s all you need to know.

Over a third of families with children will lose £1,040 a year

Research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation revealed that 37% families with children in Scotland will lose £1,040 per year because of the Tory cut to Universal Credit.

The lowest income and most vulnerable areas will be hit hardest. In Glasgow Central, for example, 63% of all families with children will be impacted.

It will also have a huge toll on mental health, as Citizens Advice Scotland revealed 74% of Universal Credit claimants would be unable to cope after their income is slashed by the cut.

Source: The Times (2021)

The cut pushes over 60,000 people in Scotland into poverty

Scottish Government analysis shows that more than 60,000 people in Scotland will be plunged into poverty by the UK government’s cut – including 20,000 children.

Lone parents will be particularly hard hit, but the impact will be felt by groups right across society.

And contrary to the Tory myths, the cut affects large numbers of working households – with over 176,000 working households in Scotland alone losing a vital lifeline of £1,040 a year.

Source: Sky News (2021)

Over 66,000 households with disabilities will lose vital support

In Scotland, the Universal Credit cut will deprive over 66,000 households with disabilities of vital income.

Worse still, people on legacy benefits, which includes many lone parents and disabled people, have been excluded from additional support throughout the pandemic.

This cut will affect the most vulnerable in our society – but by ploughing ahead with it, the Tories are making a conscious political decision.

The cut will increase health inequalities

For all of Boris Johnson’s talk about “levelling up”, the Universal Credit cut runs counter to that – also when it comes to health inequalities.

Analysis from the Health Foundation revealed that areas with already the worst health levels will be the hit hardest by the Universal Credit cut.

In the 10% of local authorities with the worst health levels, the loss of annual income for working age families will be around £207 – over double the impact compared to areas with the best health.

Source: The Guardian (2021)

The cut will see over a million people go hungry and struggle with heating

11 years of brutal Tory austerity drove millions of people into food banks – with a 128% increase across the UK in the past five years alone.

Now, latest research revealed that the Universal Credit cut will pile on even more hardship, with an estimated 1.2 million people going hungry.

The Trussell Trust, which manages over 1,300 foodbanks, alongside with other major community organisations, has urged the UK government to stop the cut – but the Tories simply ignored it.

Over 100 organisations and experts called on Boris Johnson to stop the cut

100 organisations, including charities, children’s doctors, public health experts and even a Conservative think tank have signed a letter to Boris Johnson, urging him to stop the £20 Universal Credit cut.

Citizens Advice Scotland said “people will be facing incredibly difficult choices with their household budgets”, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation warned families will be left with an “inadequate lifeline”, and even the Tories’ own Business Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, warned it could be a “very difficult winter”.

Source: The Guardian (2021)

Even some senior Tories oppose the cut

Every former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions since 2010, including Iain Duncan Smith – the architect of Universal Credit – have publicly opposed the cut.

Shamefully, this excludes the Scottish Tories, who were the only party in the Scottish Parliament to support the Universal Credit cut – proving yet again they always side with Boris Johnson, rather than what’s right.

The UN has slammed the Universal Credit cut and decade of Tory austerity – stating it breaks human rights obligations

The UN rapporteur on extreme poverty has called the Universal Credit cut “unconscionable”, adding that it effectively breaks human rights law.

It comes after another senior UN figure, Prof. Philip Alston, accused the UK government 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.

Source: The Times (2019)

Scotland is choosing a different path on social security, but Holyrood must have all the powers

Despite the limited powers and finite devolved budgets, the Scottish Government is already protecting the people of Scotland from many aspects of UK austerity – for example, through mitigating the Tory bedroom tax.

With one hand tied behind its back, the Scottish Government already introduced a new social security system – with seven brand new benefits such as the ‘game-changing’ Scottish Child Payment, the only benefit of its kind in the UK.

However, with 85% of welfare expenditure reserved to Westminster, UK government decisions are undermining Scotland’s approach, and more Tory austerity cuts are a threat to the progress the Scottish Government can make.

The majority of people in Scotland consistently support devolving all social security powers. If Westminster doesn’t stop the cuts, Holyrood must be able to do it ourselves.

Source: The Scotsman (2020)

We’re all paying the price for the Tories’ damaging policies

Millions are now facing increased living costs as a direct effect of damaging UK government policies, imposed by the Tories that Scotland hasn’t voted for since 1955.

Brexit has already cost an average person around £480, with a further £720 of pain still to be inflicted.

Rising food prices, rising fuel prices, and rising energy prices are only adding to the Tory cost of living crisis.

And despite all that, the Tories are making a political choice to hit 480,000 low income families in Scotland with a £1,040 loss of income.

Source: The Financial Times (2021)

The only way to protect Scotland from austerity is to become an independent country

The UK government’s decision to cut Universal Credit will cause immense and entirely avoidable hardship – pushing many who are already struggling into poverty.

The cut will further weaken a social security system which has been systematically and deliberately undermined by a decade of Tory austerity.

That’s why Scotland needs the full powers of independence – to protect ourselves from callous Tory policies we didn’t vote for, and to get on with the job of building a fairer country for all.

Source: The Daily Record (2020)