The UK government is to asses the impact that welfare policies including Universal Credit have had on people living in Scotland.
The Scottish Affairs Committee in Westminster will focus specifically on how welfare reforms have been undertaken north of the border in recent years and look at how inequality differs in Scotland as compared to other parts of the UK.
Citizens Advice Scotland has welcomed the decision to examine the impact of recent welfare reforms, saying that its teams have seen first-hand the effects of Universal Credit, particularly on “vulnerable people and low-income families”.
The charity’s chief executive Derek Mitchell has said that the transfer of powers relating to social security from Westminster to Holyrood represents an opportunity for Scotland to introduce a fairer system.
“But we also want to see change across the UK,” he added.
Shirley-Anne Somerville, social security secretary and MSP, has also welcomed the news that the Scottish Affairs Committee will be investigating the effects of social security reforms in Scotland.
“There is a mountain of evidence that Universal Credit is pushing people into hardship, net arrears and poverty,” she said.
“We continue to call on the UK government to fix the fundamental flaws within Universal Credit and estimate that every month around 7,000 claimants on average in Scotland are being transferred by the DWP to a broken Universal Credit system that is not fit for purpose – and this must stop,” she added.
Pete Wishart, chairman of the Scottish Affairs Committee, has noted that Scotland was among the first parts of the UK to see Universal Credit rolled out and said that he’s aiming to find out what might be done better in that context in future.
“Universal Credit is designed to make claiming benefits simpler and more beneficial, but most of us are aware that the policy has been fraught with issues from the start,” he said.
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The UK’s financial services regulator has told banks and other lenders they ought to give their customers a break from repayments if they need one as the coronavirus crisis unfolds.
The Scottish government has taken a series of steps that it hopes will help to ease some of the financial pressures being felt by people with debt problems across the country.
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