THE SNP have said “the welfare state isn’t safe in Tory hands” as a new report reveals 74% of Universal Credit claimants won’t be able to cope if their incomes are cut by £1040.

The report by Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS), published today, also reveals that two thirds (67%) of Universal Credit claimants say the current level of payment is “inadequate”, even before the cuts come into effect, with more than half (55%) describing it as “very inadequate”. More than a quarter (26%) say they would be unable to pay for essentials if the cuts go ahead and one in seven (14%) say they would be unable to buy food.

The survey of 601 CAS clients on Universal Credit found families are under increasing financial pressure, with 56% reporting that spending on necessities had increased during the pandemic, including heating and electricity (50%), food (40%), and housing costs aside from rent (27%). Two thirds (64%) say they have had to cut down on at least one basic necessity during their Universal Credit claim, with one in five (20%) cutting down on food and one in four (27%) borrowing money for essentials.

The fresh warnings come as MPs return to Westminster after recess, with a growing rebellion against Rishi Sunak’s plan to slash Universal Credit by £1040 at the end of the month. Separate research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, published in August, revealed the cuts will hit around 400,000 people in Scotland, including more than one in three (37%) families with children.

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SNP work and pensions spokesperson David Linden said: “The Chancellor must listen to the evidence and ditch these devastating Tory plans to slash the incomes of six million families, which would inevitably push more people into poverty and crisis. The UK already suffers from the worst levels of poverty in north-west Europe – with many families living on the breadline and unable to afford basic essentials. These Westminster cuts would entrench inequality even further and prove the welfare state isn’t safe in Tory hands.

“It’s now clear beyond doubt that the Tories have no intention of building a fair recovery from Covid. Despite the empty rhetoric, they are taking the UK backwards by slashing incomes and forcing families to choose between feeding their children and heating their homes.

“The only way to keep Scotland safe from Tory cuts is to become an independent country, with the full powers needed to build a strong, fair and equal recovery.”

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Meanwhile, carers, shelf stackers and hairdressers will be among the workers hit by the biggest overall drop in welfare payments being compounded by the Universal Credit cut, new research says.

Primary teachers, nurses and street cleaners will also be potentially losing more than £1700 per year compared to 2010 if the £20-a-week uplift ends next month as planned.

Research from the Action for Children charity examined how much less a sole-earner couple with two children will receive in social security compared to 2010, factoring in previous benefit squeezes.

The families of hairdressers will have lost £1982 on average, shelf stackers £1843 and care workers £1773, according to the analysis.