A SNP MP has slammed Amber Rudd’s “astonishing” refusal to introduce separate individual payments for Universal Credit claimants, despite concerns about the policy’s impact on victims of domestic abuse.
During an interview on Newsnight, the UK Secretary of State for Work and Pensions ruled out separate payments as default – despite previously saying she wanted to make Universal Credit fairer and more flexible, particularly for women.
At present, Universal Credit is paid to just one person in a household which risks giving more power to abusers in households where domestic violence occurs.
The SNP has been vocal in its serious concerns that the current situation makes it easier for perpetrators of domestic abuse to exert financial control – leaving victims isolated and unable to leave an abusive relationship.
The proposal of default separate payments is supported by a wide range of charities and organisations, including Scottish Women’s Aid, Surviving Economic Abuse and the End Violence Against Women Coalition.
Commenting, Dr Philippa Whitford MP said: “Amber Rudd’s comments are bitterly disappointing, particularly after all her talk in Parliament of reducing the impact of the benefit system on women.Clearly, it was all just talk.
“It is astonishing that the Tories have ruled out sensible provisions that could prevent many women in the UK having to choose between poverty and abuse because of UK government welfare policy.
“It is simply not good enough for the UK government to continue to side-line this issue.
“They must introduce separate payments as the default to ensure that women have financial independence and aren’t subject to coercion or being trapped in abusive relationships.
“At the very least, they should commit to work with the Scottish Government to pilot Separate Payments in Scotland.
“Paying Universal Credit into one bank account per household makes it easier for perpetrators of domestic abuse to exert complete financial control – leaving women isolated, with no money to socialise with friends and family or to leave an abusive relationship.
“The SNP government fully supports the introduction of separate payments, and is in discussion with the DWP to enable such payments to be made in Scotland.
“But domestic abuse and financial coercion is an issue that affects women, and to a lesser extent men, right across the UK, and the simplest and most effective way to resolve this flaw is for the UK government to stop being so stubborn and reform the underlying system.”