“It’s impossible to leave politics at the door on this”

Social Justice and Social Security Committee member Emma Roddick MSP has condemned what she described as the UK Government’s hamstringing of the Scottish Government’s efforts to end child poverty in Scotland.

The Highlands and Islands MSP pressed witnesses on the difficulties of a hybrid social security system, with the SNP Scottish Government’s budget and policies still heavily dependent on the choices made by the UK Tory Government down south.

Commenting, Roddick said:

“The innovative Scottish Child Payment is administered by the Scottish Government, but to deliver these payments, they are forced to rely on the UK Government’s Department of Work and Pensions. They hold the data for who is in receipt of Universal Credit and other reserved benefits, and as such is entitled to Scottish Child Payment as well.

“The problem with this is that while the Scottish Government wants the Scottish Child Payment to support parents throughout the journey into work, if the recipient finds a job the DWP reaction is, ‘well, okay, you’re in work now, so you shouldn’t be receiving benefits anymore.’ This is not in line with our values here in Scotland and it is taking food out of kids’ mouths.”

Criticising colleagues who wanted to “leave politics out of” the discussion, she said:

“It isn’t hard to see that our ability to help people, to end child poverty and to build a fairer country, is hindered severely by the current devolution settlement.

“It’s impossible to leave politics at the door on this. If you have a left-of-centre government here in Scotland, and a Tory government in London, and both have partial responsibility for our social security system, then we are clearly hamstrung no matter how closely ministers from both Governments work together.  It is political, you can’t get away from that, and it simply doesn’t work.”