Scottish Government under fire over two child cap policy
After revelations that the Department for Work and Pensions has received no contact from the Scottish Government about steps that could be taken to end or mitigate the Tories two-child cap policy, Labour has called on the SNP to back moves to end the controversial policy.
After an interview with The Times, the SNP's Finance Secretary appeared to claim he had made contact with the DWP to ascertain whether the Scottish Government could mitigate the policy, however comments from the DWP have since proven otherwise.
Mackay had claimed during the interview that "“The UK government is not going to give us access to those people’s data so we can then supplement that payment,”, but his press officer ended the interview when pressed on whether any steps had been taken to contact the DWP on the matter.
Scottish Labour’s Social Security spokesperson Mark Griffin, said the revelations were: "an outrage, and an insult to women in Scotland".
“The 2016 Scotland Act delivered new powers to our parliament that allows the creation of new social security payments for people in Scotland." he added. “If the SNP government wanted to, it could end the cap and scrap the rape clause, and do what we can to reverse the devastating effects of this callous policy."
Labour has called for Mackay to apologise, and work with the party to end the policy north of the border.
“The fact Derek Mackay is trying to mislead people about its plausibility without even bothering to check is a disgrace." added Griffin.
“Derek Mackay should apologise, correct the record and support Scottish Labour’s call to end the cap.”
The SNP has previously maintained that the Scottish Government does not have the powers to directly end the cap, although critics have pointed out that it has the powers to create new social security benefits under the Scotland Act of 2016.
At FMQs, the First Minister changed tack, and argued instead that it was lack of funding that was preventing the SNP from abolishing the policy.
In response to a question from Labour's leader, Nicola Sturgeon claimed: “This government does everything it can to mitigate UK welfare cuts. We’re spending in the region of £100 million every year to do that."
“The fact that we cannot mitigate every cut is not a lack of political will, it’s a fact of basic arithmetic."
“We don’t hold the budget for reserved areas of welfare so every penny of mitigation has to come from another area of our responsibilities."
“We’ve used our tax powers and we’ve allocated all of the resources at our disposal."
“Of course, there’s many other things that I would love to have the money to do so if Mr Leonard wants us to spend money on other things, he has to come to us.”