Labour To Push For A “More Radical” Welfare System
Labour plans to amend the Social Security bill to implement the “automatic split” of household Universal Credit, so that the system cannot be used to financially abuse spouses or partners.
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard had previously raised the issue of split payments with Nicola Sturgeon last month.
Alongside this, after the release of figures this week revealing that food bank use in Scotland is at record levels, Labour will also push an amendment to deliver a £5 a week increase to Child Benefit, which they say would lift around 30,000 children out of poverty.
The party has raised concerns over the SNP’s willingness to accept further devolution of welfare powers, after reports that the SNP wants a delay on the devolution of some powers from Westminster.
As it stands in the Bill, the administration of the Benefits system in Scotland won’t be fully devolved until 2021.
Scottish Labour’s social security spokesperson Mark Griffin said in a statement:
“The new powers in this Parliament over social security give us a chance to build a fundamentally fairer system if the SNP is willing to use them fully.
“With food bank use in Scotland at record levels it is time to increase Child Benefit to help families with the cost of living. Our amendment would deliver a £5 per week increase to Child Benefit, lifting tens of thousands of children out of poverty.
“And we believe that Universal Credit should be automatically split between the two partners in a relationship. This will help women facing domestic abuse and ensure money for children goes to the main carer.
“The Scottish Government has already taken action around the flexibility of Universal Credit – paying the housing element directly to landlords and paying fortnightly rather than monthly. Split payments are supported by organisations like Engender and Scottish Women’s Aid. This is a simple, practical step the government could take to help vulnerable women.
“Scotland can build a fairer social security system but it takes political will – and that’s why the SNP should back Labour’s amendments today.”