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Child poverty campaigners welcome Westminster welfare report

 

More coordination needed between both governments

MPs are calling on both administrations to improve information sharing to help improve benefit take-up.

A Scottish Affairs committee report on welfare policy also called for the UK government to raise the work allowance for Universal Credit, as well as review the £20 uplift to decide if it should become permanent instead of ending in September.

The committee also urged the UK Government to find a solution to providing Social Security Scotland with data to ensure Scottish Child Payments are distributed to families for six to 16-year olds.

Chris Birt, deputy director for Scotland at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, who gave evidence to the inquiry, warned the Universal Credit uplift must not be scrapped.

He said: “Social security should protect people at risk of being pulled into poverty, but as this report highlights this vital lifeline is too often being left to wear thin and threadbare. We agree with the committee that the [UK] Government must urgently change course and not cut Universal Credit by £20 a week in October.

“As the committee says, it’s essential that the UK and Scottish governments work together to ensure families receive the support they need.”

John Dickie, director of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland said: “Social security plays a vital role in preventing child poverty and MPs are absolutely right to highlight how critical to hard up families it is that the UK government maintains the £20 uplift to universal credit.

“Cutting that support would push an estimated 22 000 children into poverty in Scotland alone.

Dickie added: “They are also absolutely right to highlight that between the Scottish and UK government data must be shared and mechanisms identified so that the new Scottish child payment is rolled out to all eligible under 16s by the end of 2022 as promised.

“The payment is already proving a hugely welcome source of support to families with children under 6.

“With a quarter of Scotland children still living in poverty rolling out the new payment is crucial to progress against our legally binding child poverty targets.”

The committee also found that often claimants are unaware of what benefits they are entitled to from both governments, and are now calling for new communications materials or a “one-stop shop” of benefits.

 

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