Ruth Maguire MSP has called for the UK Government to extend the £20 per week uplift to the standard allowance of Universal Credit and basic element of Working Tax Credit to avoid an ‘unfair’ gap in support during the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

New figures from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) have revealed that the decision to provide the uplift to those on so called ‘legacy benefits’ would affect almost 300,000 people in Scotland.

Anti-poverty charity, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has joined the SNP in calling for the £20 increase to be made permanent and extended to legacy benefits to strengthen the social security net and provide a lifeline to families struggling due to the pandemic.

They say that throwing the equivalent lifeline to those on legacy benefits could see 1.5 million more people across the UK, including 300,000 children, benefiting from this crucial support in 2021/22.

The MSP for Cunninghame South said: “At a time where many households in North Ayrshire have been struggling financially, particularly those with disabilities who have been impacted disproportionately by the virus, it’s alarming that they could be missing out on vital support.

“Everybody who is reliant on the social security system should be entitled to the same level of support and the additional £20 per week can genuinely be a lifeline for those in need.”

Convener of Holyrood’s Social Security Committee Bob Doris said: “It’s concerning that there currently exists such a gap in support between claimants on the DWP’s old and new social security systems. Put simply, people who are on legacy benefits deserve the same amount of support as everybody else.

“We now know that providing an equivalent £20 per week uplift to those claiming legacy benefits would affect almost 300,000 people across the country, and would go a long way to easing the even more difficult situation these people find themselves in.

“Now is the moment to help families stay afloat, not cut them adrift. If the UK government fails to act on this, poverty rates will continue to soar, and we could see long lasting damage for generations to come.”