Universal Credit uplift ‘key to ensuring fair recovery and just transition’, FM tells unions
The Scottish Government has written to the UK Government on seven occasions to call for the £20-per-week uplift to Universal Credit to be made permanent and extended to legacy benefits, Nicola Sturgeon will tell trade unions today.
The First Minister representatives from Scotland’s trades unions led by STUC general secretary Rozanne Foyer will meet later today to discuss key issues affecting workers as Scotland recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.
Matters such as the need for the UK Government to extend the furlough scheme and reverse plans for damaging cuts to Universal Credit that will see households lose out on over £1,000 per year are on the agenda, as well as discussions on how to ensure workers’ needs are protected as Scotland’s economy undergoes transformation to net zero.
Analysis from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation indicates that cutting Universal Credit at the end of September will pull 500,000 people across the UK, including 200,000 children, into poverty.
Speaking ahead of her biannual meeting with the STUC, Ms Sturgeon said: “We are committed to a just transition to net zero, making sure we don’t leave individuals or communities behind – and we must ensure we incorporate the same fairness as we emerge from the pandemic to deliver greater, greener and fairer prosperity as the economy recovers. Partnership with unions is key to making sure that workers are represented as part of that process, therefore communication and collaboration between unions and Government is absolutely essential.
“How we emerge from the pandemic – and support workers and employers through that economic recovery – will not only be crucial to safeguarding the livelihoods of people hit hardest by the impacts of COVID, but will inform our work as we plan for a just transition to a net zero economy. As economic activity is restored, businesses and workers will still require support from the furlough schemes as they move through recovery. Our focus is on helping them to doing this.
“Not all of the levers are in our hands however, and clarity is urgently needed from the UK Government on whether it will reverse its plans for harmful welfare cuts, extend furlough, and protect jobs as restrictions ease and the economy recovers. If not we must see the detail on what support will be put in place to ensure those hit hardest by the economic impacts of COVID aren’t left out in the cold.”
STUC general secretary Rozanne Foyer said: “We are meeting the First Minister at a critical moment. Our focus is on building a recovery from COVID that creates a more equitable Scotland with fair work as a driver of economic transformation and sustainable economic growth. To achieve this and to bring about a just transition we need to create well-paid, unionised, green jobs in the public and private sectors.
“Our priorities include public sector pay, transport and a future Scottish National Care Service and we look forward to raising these issues with the First Minister.
“We share the Scottish Government’s call for an extension of the furlough scheme, for the £20-per-week uplift to Universal Credit to be made permanent and for the devolution of further borrowing powers to drive a fair recovery.”