MPs and MSPs from the House of Commons’ Scottish Affairs Committee and the Scottish Parliament’s Social Security Committee took part in a joint session last Monday (20th March 2017) to discuss the devolution of social security powers to Scotland.
MPs and MSPs questioned Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green and Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Securities and Equalities Angela Constance on the transfer of 13 benefit payments from Westminster to Holyrood – which represents control of around 15% of social security spending.
Margaret Ferrier MP, who is a member of the Scottish Affairs Committee, said:
“The SNP has consistently raised concerns about the roll-out of Universal Credit and what appears to be some very deep flaws right at the heart of the Tory’s flagship benefit.
“The UK Government must act now to ensure that our most disadvantaged families and individuals are protected – new claimants of Universal Credit are forced to endure a six week wait for Universal Credit payments. It is vital that steps are taken to make sure disadvantaged people do not fall into rent arrears and are not forced to rely on foodbanks or payday loans simply to get by.”
Local SNP MP Martin Docherty-Hughes added:
“The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Damian Green MP, is out of touch with the misery facing my constituents if he thinks the catalogue of failures with the payment are just ‘teething problems’ or that they are over. He must act now and introduce a full review and immediate reconsideration of the arbitrary six week waiting period.
“It would be unacceptable if the Scottish Government provided help to individuals and families in Scotland, for example, by mitigating the impact of the UK Bedroom Tax, only for the UK Government to negate that support by imposing the benefit cap on the 85% of benefits being kept under UK control.
“We still need a firm guarantee that the UK government remains committed to the fiscal framework established by the Smith Commission and will not, in any circumstances, take with one hand while the Scottish Government seeks to give with another.”