The Scottish Government has vowed to protect vulnerable people from the negative impact of UK Government cuts to social security benefits, after claiming it is repeatedly forced to spend millions of pounds a year to mitigate “completely unacceptable” Tory policies that “undermine the dignity and rights of children and adults alike”.
In a keynote address to the Child Poverty Action Group last week, new Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman said the Scottish Government had spent £100 million a year on mitigating the ‘bedroom tax’ and other welfare changes, leaving less money to address the root causes of longer-term poverty.
Ms Freeman said the Scottish Government would use newly devolved social security powers to tackle inequalities and lift as many adults and children out of poverty as possible.
Speaking about the importance of the new social security powers, Ms Freeman said: “Over the past few years UK Government delays to benefits, increased benefit sanctions, and continued cuts have pushed people – including many families with young children – into crisis situations on a daily or weekly basis.
“These devastating cuts undermine the dignity and rights of children and adults alike and are both irresponsible and completely unacceptable.
“And while the Scottish Government is funding schemes to tackle the immediate effects of these crippling UK Government cuts, it means we then have less money available to make as much progress as we could on the deep-rooted issues we know exist, which is incredibly frustrating.
“Put simply, we want to use our resources to take positive action, tackle existing inequalities and lift people out of poverty, not fight just to keep people at a standing position.
“That’s why our new social security powers are so important.
“We will reform the benefits that will be devolved to us. We will improve the processes and we will make them fairer and ensure dignity and respect runs throughout.
“We will ensure as a priority that there is a smooth transfer of these benefits and that households continue to receive them on time and in the right amount.
“We will use the powers to tackle poverty at its very core, we will use them to support and help those on low incomes and we will use them to protect our most vulnerable.
“Our overarching aim is to create a social security system that is there to help and support those who need it, when they need it and of which all Scots can be proud.”