A ‘keep the lifeline’ demonstration was launched in Edinburgh on Wednesday morning in protest at the end of the £20 uplift in Universal Credit as a charity warned that 20,000 more children in Scotland will be pushed into poverty as a result of the cut.
Scottish Green, Labour and SNP MSPs are among those who have joined The Poverty Alliance in the one hour demonstration at Queen Elizabeth House in Scotland’s capital and were joined by Justice and Peace Scotland.
The £20 top-up introduced in April 2020 was intended as a temporary measure to help people on low incomes during the pandemic, but many have urged the government not to scrap it.
Save the Children have warned that between now and early November, over 360,000 families – from nearly 250,000 households in Scotland, who are in receipt of Universal Credit will see their payments reduced– by £87 a month or £1,040 a year.
Over 103,000 families in Scotland with children on Universal Credit have a child of primary school age or younger. They said research shows that 20,000 more children in Scotland will be pushed into poverty as a result of the cut.
The charity said it will impact a child in Scotland every seven seconds over the next month.
Claire Telfer, Save the Children’s head of Scotland said: “The UK government’s decision to go ahead with this cut will devastate families in Scotland. Over the next month, over 360,000 children will be affected with a further 20,000 pushed into poverty.
“People we work with tell us they’ve been relying on this £20 lifeline to buy essentials like food and clothing for themselves and their children. Without it, tens of thousands more children are facing a cold and hungry winter. And we know the impacts of childhood poverty can last a lifetime.
Joining the protest at @UKGovScotland at the £20 cut to Universal Credit. It cannot be right for @BorisJohnson to take away a lifeline that analysis shows will push half a million more people in UK into poverty, incl 200k children #KeepTheLifeline #ChallengePoverty @OxfamScotland pic.twitter.com/bxm4R3zf3t
— Jamie Livingstone (@JamiePolitics) October 6, 2021
“It’s astonishing that UK Government ministers have chosen to inflict the most significant social security cut in memory at the same time that families are grappling with a cost-of-living crisis; Inflation, increases in energy prices, fuel shortages and tax hikes are all taking their toll on family finances. For many, this will be a significant catastrophe of falling income and rising costs. The UK Government has a duty to protect families from hardship and not add to it.
“The UK Government must change course. In his budget announcement later this month, the chancellor should reinstate the £20 lifeline. Children will be affected immediately by this change as well as throughout the course of their entire childhoods and beyond.”
The gathering is being arranged after the Poverty Alliance wrote to Alister Jack MP, Secretary of State for Scotland, inviting him to meet to discuss the impact of the cut.
The group said that despite the fact taht no response was received, the campaigners are pressing ahead with the demonstration.
The demonstration has included anti-poverty campaigners, children’s organisations, trade unions and people directly impacted by the cut. The UK government has argued that higher wages, rather than welfare increases, are a better option.
Ministers were on Monday warned they are set to “significantly” miss their targets for curbing child poverty leaving 210,000 children in Scotland trapped in a cost of living crisis.
The Scottish Government have been told poverty rates are “Scotland’s shame” as a new analysis from one of the most respected independent groups analysing poverty levels in the UK warned that they are on course to keep over 30,000 Scots children which were supposed to have been lifted out of the poverty trap over the next two years, locked in struggling households.
Legislation required the Scottish Government to ensure that less than 18% of children are living in relative poverty by 2023/24 and less than 10% by 2030.
We are at the UK gov offices in Edinburgh today to protest with @PovertyAlliance against a cut to #UniversalCredit our message…. #KeepTheLifeline & protect those who are struggling to afford to feed their families and heat their homes! #ChallengePoverty pic.twitter.com/L6hi3sHBqo
— Justice & Peace Scotland 🧡 (@JandPScotland) October 6, 2021
During the Covid-19 pandemic, a million people north of the border, including 240,000 children, were trapped in poverty.
But the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has concluded Scotland will miss its target “and by some way” leaving families locked in poverty unless urgent action “at scale” is taken.