Scotland can reject cruel approach to benefits

Alison Johnstone MSP, Social Security spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, today (1 Nov) urged the Scottish Government to use new devolved powers to stop an estimated 20,000 Scottish children being punished by the Westminster Government's lower benefits cap.

The Chartered Institute of Housing says that households will lose up to £115 per week, affecting 7,000 families in Scotland from next week. The CIH says families will face a substantial gap between their rent and the help they receive to pay for their housing, prompting fears that more people will become homeless.

At the weekend, Alison Johnstone published the Scottish Greens' submission to the Scottish Government's consultation on using new devolved social security powers. In the submission, the Greens highlight the Scottish Government's failure to ask about powers which enable Holyrood to top-up those benefits that are not being devolved.

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

"Not content with running a social security system that is overly-complicated, stressful and harmful to applicants’ physical and mental health, the Westminster Government is about to inflict further cruelty on vulnerable families by lowering the cap on support.

"With the devolution of new powers, including the ability to top-up existing and create new benefits, Scotland can reject this approach. We could, for example, top-up Child Benefit as has been proposed by the Child Poverty Action Group. And we know this additional support would not be caught by Westminster's cap. 

"The Scottish Government's consultation overlooked the ability to create new benefits and top-up reserved ones so I hope they listen to those who responded. We cannot allow Ruth Davidson's Tory colleagues to continue to impose cruelty on vulnerable Scots families."


Theresa May's squeeze on benefits limit 'will severely affect more than 20,000 Scottish children' (Herald)

Scottish Greens social security consultation submission

Scotland Act 2016, Discretionary Payments and New Benefits (SPICe briefing): "The UK Government will ensure that if Scottish Ministers were to increase the amount of a payment in relation to any benefit included within the cap, then the additional amount provided by the Scottish Government would be disregarded for the purposes of the cap."