The Scottish Government has confirmed that social security will be paid in individual payments of Universal Credit
CHARITIES working for women’s equality in Scotland have welcomed the Scottish Government’s commitment to offer individual, not household, payments of Universal Credit.
Jeane Freeman MSP’s, minister for social security, announcement means that women will have more financial autonomy and independence in the welfare system of Scotland.
It follows a lengthy process of consultation on social security in Scotland where 88 per cent of individuals and groups called for the splitting of Universal Credit payments, to prevent imbalances of power in relationships.
The issue is especially pertinent for women who are survivors of domestic abuse and require the financial independence while maintaining safety.
“We know that women are bearing the brunt of so-called welfare reform, being hit hardest by cuts to social security.” Emma Ritch
Speaking to CommonSpace Emma Ritch, the executive director of Engender, Scotland’s feminist membership body, said: “We are delighted that the Scottish Government have listened to the calls of organisations and individuals across Scotland who recognise that offering household payments of Universal Credit as default is bad for equality.
“We know that women are bearing the brunt of so-called welfare reform – both being hit hardest by cuts to social security, and having to pick up the slack where public services are being curtailed. By committing to individual payments of Universal Credit the Scottish Government is honouring their pledge to base Scotland’s social security system on dignity and respect.”
Groups such as Engender and Scottish Women’s Aid (SWA) have called for the Scottish Government to use its newly acquired devolved powers over welfare to offer individual payments of Universal Credit. The call followed the new powers transferred to the Scottish Government as a result of the Scotland Act 2016.
“The Scottish Government is supporting women’s financial independence and will reduce the ability of perpetrators of domestic abuse to control their partners and their children.” Dr Marsha Scott
According to research by a coalition of organisations including Engender, Scottish Women’s Aid (SWA), Carers Scotland (CS), Close the Gap and the Scottish Refugee Council (SRG) the vast majority of cuts, 89 per cent, made by the UK Government to the benefits and tax credit systems between 2010 and 2020 will have come from women’s incomes.
Dr Marsha Scott, chief executive of SWA, said: “Research suggests that 89 per cent of all women who are abused by a partner, experience financial abuse as part of domestic abuse. By deciding not to endorse UK Government policy measures such as the single household payment for Universal Credit the Scottish Government is supporting women’s financial independence and will reduce the ability of perpetrators of domestic abuse to control their partners and their children.”
In addition to the recommendations on individual payments, the Scottish Government stated that it would not impose digital access and delivery of benefits as has happened in the English system. During the consultation housing bodies, poverty charities and women’s advocacy groups all stated that such systems that do not take choice into account lead to abuses and unnecessary sanctions of those on social security.
Minister for social security Jeane Freeman said: “I have made clear the transfer of these powers will not be a simple inheritance and instead we will work in partnership with the people of Scotland to do things in a different way – one that is fairer, more inclusive, dignified and more respectful. But we must also make sure that the transition of powers is safe and secure, and we get a system that is right for Scotland.”
Picture courtesy of Kelly Ann-Cote
Check out what people are saying about how important CommonSpace is. Pledge your support today.