SNP MP Mhairi Black today challenged the UK government to devolve all social security powers to Scotland after Westminster’s Work and Pensions Minister admitted that the Scottish Child Payment is an example of devolution working.
After Will Quince’s admission, Mhairi Black responded that if devolution is working when it comes to social security then why not devolve all social security powers to Scotland so it can go further. Currently, only 16% of social security spending is devolved to Scotland.
Last year, the SNP Scottish Government introduced the Scottish Child Payment that will provide eligible families with £10 a week for every child under 16, with children under six set to gain from 2021.
The new benefit was hailed as a “golden opportunity to make progress in solving child poverty” and comes as Scotland faces an increase in child poverty as a result of a decade of harmful Tory austerity cuts condemned by the UN.
The payment is estimated to lift 30,000 children out of relative poverty by 2023/24 and in contrast to the Tories’ two-child limit policy, there is no cap on the number of children in families.
Commenting, Mhairi Black said: “The Tories themselves admit that Scottish Government social security policy is working – so why will they not devolve all social security powers to Holyrood so it can do more to tackle the poverty created by this Tory government’s brutal austerity agenda?
“If the Minister is serious about being committed to working with the SNP Scottish Government to tackle poverty, like he said, then transferring those powers shouldn’t be a problem.
“The Minister also said that the Scottish Government should be using their powers to reduce housing costs – it is. Perhaps he missed the two reports by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation that shows the main reason for lower poverty rates in Scotland is lower housing costs.
“The SNP Scottish Government has built 87,000 affordable homes since 2007 – almost 60,000 of which were for social rent – and introduced vital child poverty legislation that is making a real impact on tackling poverty despite UK wide Tory austerity cuts to the welfare system.
“We could do so much more to tackle poverty and inequality if Scotland had the full social security powers or better yet, the full powers of independence – for starters we would be protected from the Tories’ callous austerity policies and the consequences of their hard-line Brexit.”