Rising inflation shows need for Scot Gov to increase devolved benefits to meet cost of living

Ahead of today’s (Tue 19 Dec) Stage One vote at Holyrood on the Social Security Bill, Alison Johnstone MSP, Social Security spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said rising inflation shows the need for the UK Government to scrap the benefits freeze and for the Scottish Government to ensure new devolved benefits increase with the cost of living.

Alison pressed the issue of uprating devolved benefits at least in line with inflation during committee scrutiny of the Social Security Bill.

A majority of the Social Security Committee has recommended that the Bill includes an annual duty on ministers to consider inflation when setting the rates of devolved benefits. 

Inflation means annual household costs are rising 3.1 per cent, but the UK Government continues to keep a range of benefits frozen at 2015 levels, meaning that the real-terms value of many benefits is falling.

Sheffield Hallam University figures show that 700,000 Scots households a year will be worse off to the tune of £450 a year by 2020/21. 

Alison Johnstone, Social Security spokesperson for the Scottish Greens and MSP for Lothian, said:

"Vulnerable members of our communities are struggling with the rising cost of living due to a heartless UK Government that has frozen their financial support. The latest inflation figures show this problem will only get worse but with new devolved powers there's a chance for Scotland to take a different approach.

"Scottish Ministers have indicated a pay rise for public sector staff that almost matches inflation, following years of real-terms cuts. The same principle must apply to devolved benefits covered by the new Social Security Bill, if we truly believe in a fairer Scotland."