Universal Credit will be worth less now than in 2013 if the UK Government goes forward with plans to end the £20 uplift, according to Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS).
Figures from the charity network show that if the £20 uplift is cut, the real terms value of Universal Credit (UC) will fall below its 2013 value.
The £20-per-week uplift to UC was introduced by the UK Government last spring in recognition that people needed extra help during the pandemic.
However, the Government announced it would cut the uplift from April.
If the cut goes ahead, UC will be worth 11.5% less in 2021 than it was eight years ago, due to benefits not keeping pace with the rate of inflation.
CAS spokesperson Nina Ballantyne said: “More people than ever are claiming Universal Credit.
“Currently, 480,000 people in Scotland claim it, but many of them have families to support so the numbers of people who rely on it is very significant and includes children.
“The pandemic has caused redundancy and reduced hours, and this looks set to continue for much of the year. Now is the time to strengthen the safety net for these families, not cut it.
“Universal Credit has always failed to keep up with the cost of living, and it makes no sense to make cuts during a pandemic. Without proper support, we’ll see increases in poverty and food bank use, and a strain on other public services like the NHS.
“The £20 uplift has been an essential boost to struggling families. The reasons it was introduced still exist, so there is no logical case for removing it.
“Taking it away now would be a real blow to our most vulnerable people, just when they need the most help.
“The Government still has the opportunity to make the uplift permanent in the Budget. This would give people some peace of mind, and we once again urge the Chancellor to make this commitment.”
The UK Government has been approached for comment.