The Scottish Government is on course to spend £125 million in the 2018-19 financial year to mitigate the worst impact of Tory cuts to social security benefits, it has been revealed.
Meanwhile, the new Social Security Scotland agency had spent £34 million making over 150,000 payments of Carers Allowance Supplement and Best Start Grants, with applications for the latter only opening on 10th December.
The investment will help provide Scottish families with a vital financial safety net and is in stark contrast to the UK Government’s cruel and callous treatment of poor and vulnerable, which has resulted in rising child poverty and record levels of people turning to foodbanks.
People supported by the £125 million investment include households affected by the so-called ‘bedroom tax’, a UK Government policy that has been effectively abolished in Scotland, which limits the amount in housing benefit families can receive if they have one or more spare bedrooms – even if they are unable to find a smaller property to downsize to due to the shortage in genuinely affordable homes (aka social housing).
Commenting, Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “I am proud that in the first three months of its operations Social Security Scotland has been able to provide significant extra help to carers and low income families with children.
“However these figures starkly illustrate the significant challenge we face in providing support to those who need it while not having all the powers that would allow us to make a greater difference.
“We are investing over £125 million this financial year on measures that mitigate the very worst impact of UK Government welfare cuts and protect those on low incomes – investments such as £63 million on Discretionary Housing Payments which includes around £51 million to mitigate the bedroom tax in full, £38 million for the Scottish Welfare Fund, and £1.8 million to launch our new financial health check service which will be backed by a further £1.5 million next year.
“As we enter the new year and Social Security Scotland delivers more benefits and helps more people, we will see even more clearly the difference between the UK Government approach to social security and a distinctive Scottish service based upon the principles of fairness, dignity and respect.”