In Work Poverty

From Civil society Scotland Wiki

The Scottish Parliament’s Social Security Committee has launched an inquiry into social security and in-work poverty. The Committee will focus on the potential impact of Universal Credit on in-work poverty and is seeking input from organisations and individuals to inform their view. This page will contribute to SCVO's response which we hope will highlight key concerns shared by organisations across the sector and solutions to them.

Third sector organisations are encouraged to share their concerns directly on this page.

Key Principles[edit | edit source]

Poverty and inequality are not inevitable. Despite this, in 2014/17 19%, or almost one million Scots lived in poverty after housing costs and 58% of working-age adults in relative poverty before housing costs were living in working households. These individuals and families face very real challenges. They may battle with hunger or struggle to pay their bills or heat their homes. In the long term poverty will impact upon their health, their wellbeing and their life chances. Like the Scottish Government, SCVO and our members believe people have a right to a decent standard of living. Scotland can do better.

In the UK, 980 thousand people claimed Universal Credit (UC) in June 2018, 37% of whom were in employment. In Scotland, Universal Credit will be introduced in full across the country by the end of 2018. It is projected that when full service rollout is complete in 2022, there will be 652,500 households in Scotland claiming Universal Credit. UC can and should protect people from the many harmful impacts of poverty. To achieve this SCVO and organisations across the third sector including, Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS), CPAG Scotland, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Oxfam Scotland, the Poverty Alliance, and others, stress that their is a need to listen to those claiming UC and redesign elements that simply aren't working.

Universal Credit, as currently designed, risks leaving people in Scotland without the support they need, pushing them into debt and crisis. This crisis must not be ignored.

Key Challenges[edit | edit source]

Challenge Description Impact Solution Organisation and links
Wait for the first universal credit payment Unlike the entitlements it replaces, the first payment of UC is not made to a claimant until around six weeks after they initiate the claim. This is causing some claimants extreme financial difficulties. CPAG Scotland

There are mounting concerns regarding both the design and delivery of Universal Credit amassed during the rollout process. These problems include, but are not limited to:

•       The in-built five-week delay before people receive their first payment.

•       Administrative delays which have prolonged this waiting period further, or have resulted in elements missing from Universal Credit payments.

•       The digitalisation of claims puts individuals with limited access to online facilities, or who find new technology challenging, at a significant disadvantage.

•       An increase in rent arrears amongst tenants receiving Universal Credit, potentially risking homelessness.

•       Direct deductions to repay advances, overpayments or historic debts being taken at levels that leave people in hardship.

•       The sanctions and conditionality regime pressurises participation in employability activities that are incompatible with caring roles and low-paid work.

•        ‘The two-child limit’ which is likely to affect around 870,000 families once fully rolled out in Universal Credit, with at least 2.9 million children across the UK.  Around two-thirds of these will be in working families.

What should the Scottish Government do?[edit | edit source]

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Our members across Scotland are taking action. Their message is clear: we need a clear and co-ordinated vision to tackle poverty and inequality.

Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies.