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by Louise Wilson
28 September 2021
MSPs urge UK Government to keep universal credit top-up

Isabel Infantes/EMPICS Entertainment

MSPs urge UK Government to keep universal credit top-up

MSPs have voted to keep the £20 uplift to universal credit which is due to be removed from next week.

The SNP, Labour, Greens and Lib Dems backed a Scottish Government motion calling for the reduction to be “reversed” and accusing the UK Government of an “uncompassionate approach to welfare”.

The Scottish Conservatives voted against the motion.

The £20 per week top-up was established in March 2020 to help families struggling with reduced income as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

It was extended by a further six months in March 2021 but is now due to come to an end on 6 October.

Various anti-poverty campaigners and cross-party politicians have been urging the UK Government to keep it intact.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation estimates it will push half a million people in the UK into poverty, including 200,000 children.

Scottish Government estimates it will push 60,000 Scots into poverty, including 20,000 children.

Speaking in the debate on Tuesday afternoon, social justice secretary Shona Robison said: “Across the UK – it is not just an issue for Scotland – people are facing a perfect storm of the end of the furlough scheme, a hike in national insurance contributions and rising energy and food prices.

“The cut threatens to compound those issues and deal millions of households a hammer blow of hardship.”

However, the Scottish Conservatives said the uplift was always meant to be temporary support throughout the worst of the pandemic.

Social justice spokesperson Miles Briggs said: “With restrictions now being lifted and with the economy opening up, we must ensure that there is a different focus.

“That focus must be on a jobs-led recovery in the country – in Scotland and in our United Kingdom as a whole. That is why the UK Government has delivered a comprehensive £30bn plan for jobs to help to get people back into work.”

Reports suggest the UK Government is considering lowering the taper rate for universal credit in next month’s budget in a bid to ease the impact of the cut.

This would see benefits recipients keep slightly more of the payment as they begin to earn above the set threshold.

Read the most recent article written by Louise Wilson - Sketch: Nicola Sturgeon and Douglas Ross on (poverty) tour

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