Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale plans to use new powers coming to Holyrood to increase benefits for carers, poor new mothers and students brought up in care.
A range of benefits including the Carer’s Allowance, benefits for people with disabilities like the Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment and Attendance Allowance, and other benefits which are targeted at low-income households such as maternity grants and funeral payments will be devolved in the Scotland Bill.
Ms Dugdale will set out key changes she plans to make to the welfare system in a speech to activists in Glasgow on Monday, stating Scotland “can and must” do things differently to the Conservative UK Government.
Her proposals include ensuring that children leaving care and going into higher education receive a full grant, the abolition of the so-called bedroom tax using new powers over Universal Credit, raising the Carer’s Allowance to the same level as Jobseeker’s Allowance, and doubling the Sure Start maternity grant, increasing its value to £1,030.
Ms Dugdale’s speech comes the day before the Scottish Government is due to outline its own welfare proposals at Holyrood.
She will say: “We will offer children leaving care and going into higher education not just the bare minimum as happens now, but a full grant.
“We led the way in calling for the Scottish Government to mitigate the bedroom tax, next we will abolish the bedroom tax in Scotland using our new powers over universal credit.
“There is no worse example than the bedroom tax to demonstrate the futility of the Tory approach to welfare reform, a policy that pushes the most vulnerable further into poverty without any gain for society or economy.”
She will add: “We will also raise the level of Carer’s Allowance to match the level of Jobseeker’s Allowance. This will be worth around £600 a year extra to carers, helping to tackle poverty amongst a group in society who give so much to others.
“The Sure Start maternity grant was one of Labour’s most effective targeted child poverty measures. It has been set at £500 for 14 years.
“The cost of the grant hasn’t increased, but the cost of having a baby has. We would bring it more up to date by more than doubling it to £1,030, helping families with the average cost of a cot, buggy, car seat and nappies for a year.
“By giving real help to families who need it the most at the beginning of a child’s life, we can work towards making sure every child gets the start in life they deserve.
“Scottish Labour will never look for an excuse not to act. We will use the new powers we hold and grasp with both hands the possibilities they provide.”