The UK Government has been urged to make a £20-per-week Universal Credit uplift permanent – with a north-east MSP warning not doing so would force more children into poverty.
People receiving Universal Credit currently receive an extra £20 every week, a scheme which began at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and which will run until September.
It means families on the benefit get an extra £1,040 per year.
However, there is no guarantee the uplift will be continued beyond September – and ministers have so far failed to commit to an extension.
Kevin Stewart, the MSP for Aberdeen Central, wrote to the UK Government work and pensions minister Therese Coffey after she suggested the top-up could end.
Removing uplift ‘undermines’ progress
Mr Stewart warned ending the scheme could mean more families and children falling into poverty.
“In Scotland we’ve seen the benefits of supporting people through difficult times and we’ve used the limited powers we have over welfare to introduce the Scottish Child Payment,” he said.
“The Scottish Child Payment has made a huge difference to families and to tackling child poverty. However, that risks being undermined if those same families are going to have their support cut by an uncaring UK Government.
“Just as the Scottish Child Payment has lifted children out of poverty, this rumoured cut would plunge children back into hardship. It needs to be ruled out once and for all and that will only happen with the uplift being made permanent.”
Government ‘committed’ to providing support
A spokesman for the UK Government said ministers were “committed” to helping those on Universal Credit and providing support to job seekers.
He added: “We are committed to supporting families who are most in need, spending billions more on welfare, protecting jobs through furlough and helping people find new work through our Plan for Jobs.
“We also introduced our £269 million Covid Local Support Grant to help children and families stay warm and well-fed throughout the pandemic.”