Save the Children has warned a £20-a-week cut to Universal Credit which takes effect today will impact a child in Scotland every seven seconds over the next month.
Between now and early November, over 360,000 families – from nearly 250,000 households in Scotland, who are in receipt of Universal Credit will see their payments reduced– by £87 a month or £1,040 a year.
Over 103,000 families in Scotland with children on Universal Credit have a child of primary school age or younger. Research shows that 20,000 more children in Scotland will be pushed into poverty as a result of the cut.
This week is Challenge Poverty Week in Scotland, where hundreds of organisations work together to raise voices against poverty, as charities urge Government that ‘now is the time’ for this cut to be reversed.
Shaunie, a parent on Universal Credit, is concerned the cut will mean she will struggle to heat her home. She said: “At the end of the month when I got my UC money there was never as much as even a pound or two spare. By the time my bills were paid, my shopping was done and everything like that. For them to take that £20 away again from me, that’s going to be my gas for the week or my electric for the week. Every penny of what I get is accounted for. It would be really hard to be able to jiggle myself into not having that £20 because it was never really extra in the first place as it went straight into bills along everything else.
Keira is also a single parent with a baby on Universal Credit. She said: “We just survive as it is on [the uplift]. I know for some people £20 doesn’t seem like a lot, but that’s milk, that’s bread, that’s £10 maybe on the electric or the gas. It [is] a big deal to lose that.”
Claire Telfer, Save the Children’s Head of Scotland said: “The UK government’s decision to go ahead with this cut will devastate families in Scotland. Over the next month, over 360,000 children will be affected with a further 20,000 pushed into poverty.
“People we work with tell us they’ve been relying on this £20 lifeline to buy essentials like food and clothing for themselves and their children. Without it, tens of thousands more children are facing a cold and hungry winter. And we know the impacts of childhood poverty can last a lifetime.
“It’s astonishing that UK Government ministers have chosen to inflict the most significant social security cut in memory at the same time that families are grappling with a cost-of-living crisis; Inflation, increases in energy prices, fuel shortages and tax hikes are all taking their toll on family finances. For many, this will be a significant catastrophe of falling income and rising costs. The UK Government has a duty to protect families from hardship and not add to it.
“The UK Government must change course. In his budget announcement later this month, the chancellor should reinstate the £20 lifeline. Children will be affected immediately by this change as well as throughout the course of their entire childhoods and beyond.”