Minister to highlight record welfare spending in Holyrood debate

Shirley-Anne Somerville will say the UK Government is ‘steadily dismantling the welfare system’.

Minister to highlight record welfare spending in Holyrood debate PA Media

The SNP’s social justice secretary will highlight record spending on welfare at a Holyrood debate on Wednesday.

Shirley-Anne Somerville will say this is taking place as the UK Government is “steadily dismantling the welfare system”.

The Scottish budget for 2024/25 includes £6.3bn for benefits expenditure.

During the Scottish Parliament debate on Wednesday afternoon, Ms Somerville is expected to say: “Social Security Scotland is a safety net which we continue to strengthen through record investment – all the while the UK Government is steadily dismantling the welfare system across the UK.

“We are committing a record £6.3 billion for benefits expenditure through the 2024/25 Budget, which is £1.1 billon more than the UK Government gives to the Scottish Government for social security, demonstrating our commitment to tackling poverty.

“This is money going directly to people who need it the most in the current cost of living crisis.

“We have built a new system with the powers at our disposal – but our hands are tied by our restricted powers and by UK Government austerity.”

In January, analysis by the independent Scottish Fiscal Commission found that social protection was the only area of Scottish Government spending which has seen rapid growth over the past three years.

It said this was “a result of UK-wide trends for rising spending on disability benefits as well as Scottish Government commitments on social security and the linking of payment rates to inflation”.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “There are 1.7 million fewer people living in absolute poverty, including 400,000 fewer children compared to 2010. We are continuing to support families with the cost of living backed by over £100 billion, while cutting taxes and curbing inflation so hard-working people have more money in their pockets.

“Work is the best way to secure financial security which is why we are investing billions breaking down barriers to work and supporting over one million low-income earners through our In Work Progression offer.”

The UK Government has been asked for comment.

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