As almost half a million Scots are now seeking the offer, the UK government has been encouraged to make the £20 rise in Universal Credit permanent.
As the severity of the Covid 19 crisis becomes apparent, Citizens Advice Scotland has pointed to an 85 percent rise in people in Scotland now claiming Universal Credit since the pandemic started in March 2019.
In April 2020, the UK government implemented the £ 20 surcharge on Universal Credit payments in reaction to the first Covid 19 freeze, which left thousands dependent on the payout.
But, amid reports that Chancellor Rishi Sunak might do so in the March budget, it is due to expire in March – with no confirmation from Westminster whether it will be extended or made permanent.
“an incredible 110,485 pieces of advice to people on Universal Credit”an incredible 110,485 pieces of advice to individuals on Universal Credit”more than double the advice given on Universal Credit in the financial year to March 2019.”more than double the advice given on Universal Credit in the financial year to March 2019.
She added: “The Citizens Advice network can be sure of one thing for all the uncertainty at the moment: in 2021, Universal Credit will continue to be one of our largest areas of advice.”
Major decisions will be taken on the future of Universal Credit payments within a few months. Instead of cutting holes in the safety net, it is necessary for the UK government to act this year to improve social security.
“nearly half a million people in Scotland currently receiving Universal Credit will face a £1,040 annual cut to their income in less than three months,”nearly half a million people currently receiving Universal Credit in Scotland will face a £ 1,040 annual reduction in less than three months to their income,”the consequences of cutting this vital lifeline cannot be overstated.”the consequences of cutting this vital lifeline can not be overstated.
“The reality is that any of us could be reliant on the social security system, and if we are, the support should be adequate.”
In response to the pandemic, the SNP has repeatedly called for the £20 rise to be made permanent by ministers.
Alison Thewliss, the party’s Treasury spokesperson, also called on the chancellor to “extend this to those on older benefits and increase the pitiful level of statutory sick pay to protect those affected by the coronavirus.”
There are 475,000 Universal Credit applicants in Scotland with data from the Department of Work and Pensions – an 80 percent rise since the pandemic started.
A U.K. government spokesperson said, “We know this is a difficult time for many, which is why we’ve increased welfare by billions of pounds and spent hundreds of billions to protect jobs across the U.K.”