A GOVERNMENT Minister has described plans to end the £20-per-week uplift to Universal Credit as “the worst possible decision, at the worst possible time”.
Social Security Minister Ben Macpherson has urged the UK Government to show wisdom and compassion and do the right thing for hard-pressed families in the UK.
The UK Government confirmed this week that the payment, introduced in April 2020 to help struggling families through the pandemic, will be phased out in the autumn, despite warnings from anti-poverty charities about the effect this will have on poverty levels.
Mr Macpherson said: “The UK Government’s decision to withdraw the £20-per-week uplift to Universal Credit in September is indefensible.
“It is also economically nonsensical at a time when we need to stimulate growth in order to create jobs and help businesses recover.
“Now is not a time to cut household support – now is a time to invest and assist those who need it.
“This cut will remove £461 million from Scottish households – and we estimate it will push more than 60,000 people in Scotland into poverty, including 20,000 children.”
He continued: “As we begin to emerge from this dreadful pandemic, we need to be building an economic recovery that works for everyone – but by ending the £20 uplift, just as household incomes need to be supported, the UK Government are taking the worst possible decision, at the worst possible time.
“Earlier this week, the Prime Minister told MPs on the House of Commons Liaison Committee that ‘the emphasis has got to be on getting people into work and getting people into jobs and that’s what we’re doing.’
“He seems completely unaware that – according to the DWP’s own figures – 37% of people in receipt of Universal Credit across the UK are already in work and rely on this lifeline payment.
“The Scottish Government is doing everything it can to tackle child poverty with the limited powers and resources at our disposal.”
He continued: “In February, we delivered on our landmark commitment of a Scottish Child Payment – and we are expanding it even further during this parliamentary term.
“But our anti-poverty efforts are being seriously undermined by Westminster cuts and ending the Universal Credit uplift will be yet another unjust and unnecessary step backwards for Scottish communities and those across the UK.
“This UK Government cut is further evidence that, as long as key economic levers and policy decisions remain at Westminster, we’ll always be tackling child poverty with one hand tied behind our backs.
“Even at this late stage, the UK Government must think again about ending the uplift and retain the £20 boost that people need.
“They must listen to anti-poverty charities and halt the senseless harm they are about to inflict on already hard pressed families.”