SNP fumes over UK Government failure to assess impact of Universal Credit cut

The SNP has claimed the decision not to assess the impact of the cut to the Universal Credit should “shame” the UK Government ahead of the budget announcement from Rishi Sunak this week.

The Chancellor is facing calls to reinstate the £20 uplift to the UK’s main benefit amid demands for additional funding across the public sector, with Wednesday’s budget set to be critical for the UK’s wider economic recovery from Covid-19.

The comments from the SNP come alongside similar criticism from Scottish Labour, with the party’s only MP in Scotland, Ian Murray, also hitting out at “shameful decisions” made by Boris Johnson’s government.

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In response, the UK Government said Holyrood had the powers to “top-up” existing benefits if it chose.

The reversal of the Universal Credit uplift saw £20 extra per week taken out of benefit payments.

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Depute leader of the SNP in Westminster, Kirsten Oswald, told Scotland on Sunday the decision to not undertake any impact assessment of the cut to Universal Credit showed a lack of interest in improving child poverty.

She said: “The devastating impact of the Tories callous cut to Universal Credit is being felt by tens of thousands of families across Scotland and the rest of the UK.

“However, this Tory government have absolutely no intention of understanding or learning the impact of their policies – because they know it would shame them to their very core.

“The decision to slash Universal Credit was a political one, and the cut – branded the biggest overnight cut to social security since World War Two – is having untold implications to those both in and out of work. It means parents are skipping meals and facing the harrowing choice of feeding their children or heating their home.

“Whilst this is happening on our doorstep, the Tories are burying their head in the sand and pretending everything is fine, demonstrating, yet again, how out-of-touch they are with reality.”

Also responding to the coming budget, Murray, Labour’s shadow Scottish Secretary, said the budget was the chance to reverse “a decade of mismanagement” in the UK economy.

He said: “The Tories are piling costs on households and businesses while there’s a cost of living crisis and chaos in our supply chains.

“From cutting Universal Credit to hiking National Insurance, their shameful decisions are failing working people in Scotland and across the UK – and they are the SNP’s best asset.

“We need a plan to rebuild the public services which the Tories have cut to the bone over the last decade.

”Labour would tax fairly, spend wisely and get the economy firing on all cylinders, so we can build a fairer and stronger nation.”

Responding, a UK Government spokesperson said: “Well-paid work is the best way to improve lives and we’ve always been clear that the uplift to Universal Credit was temporary, designed to help people through the toughest stages of the pandemic.

"It’s right that we focus on our Plan for Jobs, supporting people back into work and supporting those already employed to progress and earn more.

“Universal Credit continues to deliver vital support for those both in and out of work and we have provided an additional £41 million for the Scottish Government to help the most vulnerable with essential costs this winter.

“Meanwhile, the Scottish Parliament has significant welfare powers and can top-up existing benefits, pay discretionary payments and create entirely new benefits.”

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