Majority of Scots back keeping £20 per week increase to Universal Credit
The majority of people in Scotland back keeping the £20 per week increase to Universal Credit until at least the financial situation created by Covid is more stable, polling for Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has found.
The research carried out for the charity by YouGov found that 28% of people thought the increase should be made permanent, with a further 35% saying the increase should stay in place until the financial situation created by Covid is more stable.
The UK Government increased Universal Credit at the start of the pandemic, but plan to cut the payment in September. The latest figures suggest it supports almost half a million people in Scotland.
Previous research carried out by CAS revealed that cutting the payment by £20 per week would reduce the value of the benefit in real terms below what it was worth when it was first introduced in 2013.
Nina Ballantyne, CAS social justice spokesperson, said: “Increasing Universal Credit by £20 per week at the start of the pandemic was an absolute lifeline for people and a recognition that payments were too low. Cutting it would push hundreds of thousands of people into crisis.
“A clear majority of people support keeping the increase until at least we have recovered from the pandemic – and with furlough winding down in the autumn and a real risk of job losses, that recovery will not be overnight.
“Cutting Universal Credit by £20 per week would make it worth less in real terms in 2021 than it was when it was first introduced in 2013, despite the cost of living rising.”
She added: “It also won’t help our economy, removing around half a billion pounds worth of spending power from people just when we need our economy to grow. There’s still time to cancel this cut, and ensure people get the support they need.”
A UK Government spokesman said: “The temporary Universal Credit uplift was brought in to support those with the lowest incomes during the pandemic.
“Our focus now is on our multibillion-pound Plan For Jobs, which will help people learn new skills to progress in their career, increase their hours or find new work.
“Meanwhile, the Scottish Government has significant welfare powers and can top up existing benefits, pay discretionary payments and create entirely new benefits in areas of devolved responsibility.”