MPs and MSPs from the House of Commons’ Scottish Affairs Committee and the Scottish Parliament’s Social Security Committee took part in a joint session on Monday to discuss the devolution of social security powers to Scotland.
MPs and MSPs questioned Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green and Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Securities and Equalities Angela Constance on the transfer of 13 benefit payments from Westminster to Holyrood – which represents control of around 15% of social security spending.
Margaret Ferrier MP, who is a member of the Scottish Affairs Committee, said: “The SNP has consistently raised concerns about the roll-out of Universal Credit and what appears to be some very deep flaws right at the heart of the Tory’s flagship benefit.
“The UK Government must act now to ensure that our most disadvantaged families and individuals are protected – new claimants of Universal Credit are forced to endure a six week wait for Universal Credit payments.
“It is vital that steps are taken to make sure disadvantaged people do not fall into rent arrears and are not forced to rely on foodbanks or payday loans simply to get by.
“Damian Green is out of touch with the misery facing many Universal Credit claimants if he thinks the catalogue of failures with the payment are just “teething problems” or that they are over – he needs to act now and introduce a full review and immediate reconsideration of the arbitrary six week waiting period.”
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Ben Macpherson MSP, who sits on the Social Security Committee, said: “It would be absolutely ludicrous if the SNP Scottish Government provided help to individuals and families in Scotland – for example, by mitigating the impact of the UK government’s unfair and despised Bedroom Tax – only for the UK government to effectively remove that support by imposing the benefit cap on other reserved benefits.
“I welcome Angela Constance’s contribution to the joint session, which set out the different approach the Scottish Government will take with the Scottish Social Security Agency – that will have dignity and respect at its heart.
“We still need a cast-iron guarantee that the UK government remains committed to the fiscal framework established by the Smith Commission and will not, in any circumstances, take with one hand while the Scottish Government seeks to give with another.
“It is clear that there is still work to be done and questions remain unanswered – the Secretary of State did not rule out the possibility of exempting Scotland from the UK government’s decision to scrap housing benefit for 18-21 year olds.
“However he seemed reluctant to properly explore this or work as constructively as possible with the Scottish Government in order to fulfil this SNP commitment to chart a different course to that of the Tories at Westminster and maintain housing support for 18-21 year olds in Scotland.”
This is a press release from the Scottish National Party (SNP).