The SNP at Westminster have been pressing the UK Government to support people on low income throughout the coronavirus crisis.

In response to a recent report published by the Trussell Trust, foodbanks have rightly been praised for providing emergency food to people unable to afford essentials during these difficult times. However, the hardworking volunteers at foodbanks cannot be expected to continue picking up the pieces – the UK Govt and DWP must do more to ensure the most vulnerable in our communities do not fall through the gaps in support.

SNP MPs are calling on the UK Government to adopt a number of measures in response to the coronavirus outbreak, which include:

  • An emergency basic payment to ensure that no on falls through the gaps of existing government support schemes;
  • An increase to all benefits payments, including universal credit and legacy benefits such as child benefit;
  • Introducing non-repayable grants instead of loans at the start of a claim for universal credit to reduce the 5-week wait;
  • Abolishing the benefit cap, the two-child limit, and the entire sanctions regime;
  • Increase Statutory Sick Pay to at least the Real Living Wage and remove the weekly earnings threshold so that all workers can receive SSP irrespective of their weekly earnings or National Insurance contributions;
  • Scrapping the No Recourse to Public Funds rules to ensure that everyone in the UK, regardless of their immigration status, receives the support they need.

I also welcome the Scottish Government’s £350 million package of communities funding, which ensures local authorities, community groups and the third sector are able to support people and communities affected by Covid-19. Since launching on 18 March, the Scottish Government have already committed over £180 million, including £102 million to local authorities through our Hardship Fund (£50m), increases to the Scottish Welfare Fund (£22m) and Food Fund (£30m).

I work closely with West Dunbartonshire Council and local welfare support groups and would encourage anyone facing financial hardship to get in touch.