SNP minister in pledge to use new powers to protect disability benefits
The SNP Government has committed to use new Holyrood powers over welfare to ensure disability benefits match the cost of living after pressure from Labour
The SNP Government will use new powers coming to Holyrood over welfare to ensure that disability benefit levels match the cost of living, Scotland’s social security minister has said.
Jeane Freeman confirmed the government would use new powers to top up welfare benefits to ensure disability payments increase in line with inflation.
Freeman told MSPs that ministers were “pleased to accept” a Labour amendment to a government motion that said financial support for the disabled should be protected with the use of the new social security responsibilities.
The motion from Scotland’s communities, social security and equalities secretary Angela Constance stated “the UK Government’s cuts to disability benefits are unfair and have caused unnecessary stress and financial hardship”.
Ministers accepted Labour MSP Mark Griffin’s amendment that commits the Scottish Government to using new welfare powers to protect disability benefits and to effectively reverse such cuts.
Griffin’s amendment stated that disability benefits should be “increased at least in line with inflation to ensure that they cover the cost of living”.
The Labour MSP said that the amendment would “add substance” to the government’s motion and stated that he was “grateful” to the minister for accepting it.
Griffin, welcoming Freeman’s pledge to protect the level of disability benefits when the top-up powers are eventually devolved, said the “support will be needed” to protect the incomes of vulnerable Scots.
The timing for the devolution of the powers, which are being transferred as part of the Scotland Act, has yet to be agreed.
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