Following a new report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation that shows “the worst of the unemployment crisis is still to come” in the UK, the SNP has renewed calls for the £20 boost to Universal Credit to be made permanent and extend it to legacy benefits.
The report states that losing the uplift while the job market remains in crisis will accelerate debt and risk rising destitution. Taking away this uplift – which has been described as a “lifeline” – in the middle of a global health pandemic will cut incomes by £1,040 a year for 6.2 million families, resulting in 500,000 more people being pulled into poverty, including 200,000 children.
The SNP has said that anything less than making the uplift permanent and extending it to legacy benefits will be another missed opportunity by the UK government to tackle poverty.
The report comes after figures reveal that although the unemployment rate in Scotland has decreased, UK unemployment as a whole has risen again to 5%, with redundancies at a record high.
Commenting, the SNP’s newly appointed Work and Pensions spokesperson David Linden MP said:
"The UK’s unemployment rate is rapidly increasing – and the JRF warns the worst is yet to come. The Tory government must urgently invest in the UK’s social security net – not slash it as they spent the last decade doing.
"It is crucial that the Chancellor confirms he will make the £20 uplift permanent and extend it to legacy benefits - as part of a wider package of measures to put money in people's pockets. Anything less than that will be another stain on the UK’s reputation when it comes to tackling poverty.
"And he must do that now to give people much needed assurance and certainty over their finances instead of waiting until the March budget.
"Tory cuts and delays have already caused thousands of unnecessary redundancies, and left many people struggling to get by - including the 3million who have been completely excluded from support. There must be urgent support for these forgotten millions who have been left behind.
"The SNP Scottish Government is using its limited powers to do what it can to provide help and support to those who have fallen through the gaps of coronavirus support, have lost income or become unemployed but the powers and levers to make a real difference in ensuring no-one is left behind in this pandemic lie with Westminster – I am urging the Tories to use them to put money in people’s pockets and protect livelihoods.
"But Scotland shouldn't have to wait for Westminster to act. Only with the full powers of an independent country can Scotland build the fairer, more equal country we all want to see."