Following new research showing 1.3 million children under five are now living in poverty in the UK and stark warnings from a welfare expert, the SNP has repeated calls for the UK government to make the Universal Credit uplift permanent and extend it to legacy benefits.
Dame Louise Casey, a former homelessness adviser to the UK government, has again warned the Tory government against its plans to cut Universal Credit in April after research from Little Village and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation revealed 34% of families with children under five live below the poverty line. Two in five of these families have seen a reduction in their earnings as a result of the coronavirus crisis.
The former UK government adviser said that maintaining the £20 increase is “the least we could do” and not doing so would be “unthinkable”. She added that with regards to poverty, "the numbers are just too big to ignore" and the UK government must “thing big and think long” to properly tackle the growing issue.
“Poverty used to be something that people worried about other people having.”— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) February 9, 2021
Former head of the Troubled Families Unit, Louise Casey, says “the numbers are just too big to ignore" and the government needs to "think big and think long" to heal the rifts from #Covid19#Newsnight pic.twitter.com/ontVrwVrmM
The SNP has repeatedly called on the UK government to go beyond increasing Universal Credit and other legacy benefits and strengthen all welfare protections after the Tories spent a decade dismantling the social security net - including matching the Scottish Child Payment, which has been hailed as "game-changing" in tackling child poverty in Scotland.
Commenting, the SNP’s Work and Pensions spokesperson, David Linden MP, said:
"If the UK government won't listen to the SNP and the countless anti-poverty campaigners then it must listen to its own former adviser – who has said scrapping the Universal Credit uplift in the middle of a global health pandemic and economic crisis is “unthinkable.”
"The Tory government must make the Universal Credit uplift permanent and roll it out to legacy benefits, if we are to protect the incomes of six million people in the middle of an economic crisis and global pandemic. And he must commit to this now to give certainty to millions of families who are wondering how they will get by in the months ahead.
"As Dame Louise Casey rightly says, it will take more than maintaining and extending the uplift to fix the damage done to millions of families but it would be a start. Beyond this the UK government must strengthen welfare protections across the board and rebuild the social security net it spent years dismantling with its austerity agenda - including bringing in an equivalent to the Scottish Child Payment.
"However, our calls for UK ministers to do this have repeatedly been ignored – we still have the cruel two-child cap, benefit cap and one of the lowest levels of Sick Pay in Europe. Scotland shouldn't have to wait for Westminster to act. Westminster’s repeated failures have proven that the only way to secure a strong, fair and equal recovery is for Scotland to become an independent country – with the full powers needed to build a fairer society."
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