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Universal Credit: Poverty Reduction

Volume 682: debated on Monday 19 October 2020

The latest statistics from 2018-19 show that the rates and numbers of people in absolute poverty were lower than in 2010. Since those statistics were published, we have injected a further £9.3 billion into our welfare system, including an increase to universal credit of up to £1,040 for this financial year.

The reality is that that is not enough. Thanks to the efforts of the Scottish Government to mitigate the worst impacts of austerity, Scotland has the lowest child poverty rates, but the impact of UK Government policies means that 4,600 children in my constituency are estimated to be living in poverty, which is absolutely shameful. Will the Minister listen to the calls of the End Child Poverty coalition and the likes of Macmillan Cancer Support and pledge to keep the £20 a week universal credit uplift to avoid putting more families and children into poverty?

One child in poverty is one child too many. We at the Department are continuing to work with Her Majesty’s Treasury and other Government Departments to monitor the evolving economic and labour market situation and identify the most effective ways to help people to stay in or close to work, both now and in future. It is important to stress that Her Majesty’s Treasury published a distributional analysis that assessed the impact of covid-19 on incomes compared with the incomes of working households in May 2020. That analysis showed that the Government’s interventions have supported the poorest households the most.