Social security should provide dignity

Mark Ferguson
Mark Ferguson

#stuc2018 Social security should provide dignity through a living wage standard of support, the STUC Congress was told as it voted to campaign against the worst elements of Universal Credit.

The STUC will now campaign with unions and groups like Disabled People Against Cuts for a better social security system in Scotland.

Speakers slammed the roll out of Universal Credit as a system that will increase poverty resulting in benefit sanctions including for those in work, rent arrears, and hardship through repayment of benefit advances.

UNISON Scotland Local Government chair Mark Ferguson told delegates: “The composite raises genuine issues such as the eradication of poverty, ruling out the role of private profit in social security legislation and a call for advocacy services.

Supporting the PCS and CWU composite, he said: “Currently local authorities across Scotland have strategies in place to tackle poverty in our communities, deliver some benefit/grant services, welfare rights and provide advice/advocacy through income advisors.

“It is widely reported that Universal Credit is bureaucratic and will result in increased poverty, rent arrears and is demoralising with the high levels of benefit sanctions in place.

“Many of our members access this benefit which in itself is a disgrace, working people having to supplement their incomes as a consequence of low wages. It is expected that these benefit supplements will vary on a regular basis leaving claimants with uncertainty and unable to plan ahead.

“UNISON believes that if all affiliates work together we can achieve improvements for our members and our communities, in calling for additional resources to that currently provided by local authorities and what will be delivered by the Social Security Agency.”

The STUC will campaign for improvements like weekly payments, preferably through post offices if claimants want that, and accessible through paper applications.

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