Dignity, fairness and respect will remain at the heart of Scotland’s social security system, SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon pledged today, as she outlines new measures to support carers and to help tackle fuel poverty.
The SNP has already unveiled a raft of policies designed to tackle poverty and improve opportunities – including a doubling of the Scottish Child Payment; providing every pupil with their own laptop or device and an internet connection if required; extending free bus travel to everyone under 22; and action to increase community empowerment and ensure more wealth stays in local communities.
Scotland’s new social security system is now paying out 10 benefits – 7 of them brand new and not available elsewhere in the UK.
With 30 days to go until the election, Ms Sturgeon outlined further key measures to be introduced in the next term if they SNP are re-elected, including:
- Award a double payment of Carers Allowance Supplement this year, worth £460, in recognition of the extra burden the pandemic has placed on carers.
- Introduce an improved Carers Assistance payment to replace Carers Allowance. It will pay a further £10 per week to those who are caring for more than one disabled person, and increase the period of paying the benefit when a carer loses someone they have cared for from 8 weeks to 12 weeks.
- Replace the current UK winter fuel payment with a Winter Heating Payment for older people – maintaining its current rates and not means-testing it – helping around 1 million households and backed by around £180m a year.
- In addition, the Cold Weather Payment, which is unreliable and can pay out infrequently, will be replaced with a new stable annual £50 Winter Heating Payment to those low-income households currently eligible for Cold Weather Payments. This £20m investment will benefit around 400,000 households.
Commenting, Nicola Sturgeon said: “Since the Social Security Act was passed in 2018, the SNP Government has built a brand new social security system from scratch – one that has the principles of dignity, fairness and respect at its heart. We’re using these new powers to make a real difference to families across Scotland.
“This is an investment in our people, and in Scotland’s future – and stands in stark contrast to the Tories’ record in government, which has presided over a decade of cuts in support of the very people who need it most, and the frankly disgusting treatment of people with disabilities – as well as policies like the Bedroom Tax and the abhorrent Rape Clause.
“We’ve listened carefully to those who receive support, as well as the people and the organisations supporting them – and we will build on what we have already delivered with even more ambitious plans.
“The new Scottish Child Payment has been described as a ‘game-changer’ – and by starting bridging payments that support families of all children receiving free school meals, as well as doubling the payments themselves to £20 a week over the next parliament, we will make enormous in-roads in the battle against child poverty.
“Unpaid carers make an immense contribution to the health and wellbeing of loved ones, probably never more so than during the last 12 months.
“So, we will make another double payment this year of Carers Allowance Supplement, before replacing the Carers Allowance with an improved Carers Assistance Payment.
“We’ll also replace the UK Government’s unreliable £25 Cold Weather Payment which only pays out if in certain weather conditions, with a £50 annual payment.
“As we approach the election, we will set out further plans to build a fairer Scotland – including our vision of a minimum income guarantee for all.
“By giving both votes to the SNP on May 6th, people can elect a First Minister and a government absolutely committed to leading Scotland through the pandemic, building a fairer Scotland, and supporting all of our citizens through the recovery.”