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Shelter Scotland response to the Work and Pensions Committee inquiry into the welfare safety net

By: Shelter Scotland  Published: December 2018

Shelter Scotland welcomes the opportunity to respond to this Work and Pensions Committee inquiry on the welfare safety net. This response sets out Shelter Scotland's views on the role of the welfare safety net, how it currently meets the needs of those using it and how it can be improved. 


  •          Over the past ten years, the welfare safety net in the United Kingdom has been increasingly broken down, to the detriment of some of the most vulnerable in our society. Changes to the welfare system – combined with high housing costs and a challenging labour market – are causing hardship on a greater scale than previously seen. We recommend that the freezes on working age benefits and Local Housing Allowance are lifted, to ensure that payments correlate to current cost of living and allow people to live in dignity.
  •          Universal Credit should be the safety net that alleviates deprivation, but our experiences suggest that it can actually exacerbate deprivation in Scotland, as well as threatening people’s housing security. We anticipate this trend will continue if the issues highlighted during the roll-out of earlier stages of Universal Credit are not dealt with. This is a sure sign of the safety net failing if it cannot keep people out of poverty. We recommend a halt to the rollout of Universal Credit while problems are fixed.
  •         The benefit cap is causing particular difficulty for many of our clients. We recommend the removal of the benefit cap.
  •         The experience of our clients suggests a welfare safety net which can be overly punitive. This is reflected in the findings of the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. Any welfare safety net should treat people with respect and dignity, including an end to the punitive use of sanctions.

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