Families will be hit hard by Universal Credit cut

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Patricia Gibson MP has condemned the decision by the UK Tory Government to cut Universal Credit by £20 a week.

This follows a Joseph Rowntree Foundation study which revealed that 43 per cent of all working-age families with children in her North Ayrshire and Arran constituency will be impacted.

The independent report warned that tens of thousands of children will have their lives ‘blighted by hardship and anxiety’.

Two thirds of Universal Credit recipients are in low paid employment.

Chris Birt, Joseph Rowntree Foundation deputy director for Scotland, said: ‘The UK government plans to impose the biggest overnight cut to the basic rate of social security since the Second World War.

‘Cutting Universal Credit will have deep and devastating consequences for a huge number of families with children across Scotland.

‘Child poverty was already rising before Covid-19.

‘It is a scandal that the UK government’s strategy for economic recovery is to plunge families who are already struggling into deeper poverty and debt.’

At the weekend prime minister Boris Johnson insisted he would not reverse his plans for a £20-a-week cut in welfare for the poorest families, saying he would not ‘raise taxes to subsidise low pay’.

Speaking on Wednesday Mrs Gibson added: ‘From today, thousands of my constituents will face a real squeeze on their incomes.

‘Coupled with rising energy prices and food bills, and a National Insurance hike, many low-income families will have to make the unthinkable decision of whether to heat their homes or feed their children.

‘In stark contrast to this indefensible move by the UK Tory government, the SNP government has declared a national mission to end child poverty and has invested £2.5 billion to support low income households over the last year, including nearly £1 billion to directly support children.

‘The Scottish Child Payment – a benefit unique in the UK designed to tackle child poverty head on – is now reaching 108,000 children. The SNP government intends to double the payment to £20 per week as early as possible and will set out how and when as part of the Budget Bill process.

‘The benefit will also be extended to all eligible under-16s by the end of 2022, with quarterly bridging payments made in the interim.’