The Scottish Government has announced that up to 700, 000 homes are set to benefit from plans to make Universal Credit payments more flexible. Though the Universal Credit benefit itself remains under Westminster control, under the devolution of some welfare powers to Holyrood, the Scottish Government has the power to change aspects of the payment, such as frequency.
In the first use of the social security powers devolved to Holyrood under the Scotland Act 2016, the Scottish Government plans give Scottish claimants the option to be paid fortnightly instead of monthly. Claimants will also have the option of having housing benefit paid directly to landlords – a flexibility that will be available for tenants in the private rented sector as well as those in social housing.
The Scottish Government has said that between 650,000 and 700,000 households could benefit from the changes by 2022.
SNP MSP for Cunninghame South, Ruth Maguire, who sits on Holyrood’s Social Security Committee, welcomed the news, commenting:
‘Though the majority of powers over social security remain under Westminster control, the SNP Scottish Government is committed to making a real difference to people’s lives with the powers it now has, building a Scottish system with dignity, trust and respect at its heart.
The SNP Scottish Government has listened to people’s needs through extensive consultation, and is now delivering on what they asked for.
These flexibilites will allow people to receive Universal Credit payments in the way that best meets their needs, and in so doing will help thousands of families to best manage their household budgets.’