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Dear Social Security Committee, Let's talk about split payments of Universal Credit

On March 1, the Social Security Committee of the Scottish Parliament met to discuss the Social Security (Scotland) Bill, and we were encouraged by the brief discussion on split payments of Universal Credit.

Engender has campaigned for the introduction of automatic split payments of Universal Credit for several years, coming together with a coalition of charities including women’s and equalities organisations, anti-poverty groups and the Scottish Trades Union Congress to release a paper in March of 2016 calling on Scotland to use new powers over social security to promote women’s equality and diverge from the damaging UK policy of joint payments of Universal Credit.

We know that the current UK system of single household payments is failing, and exacerbating existing inequality, including between women and men. The model of household payments would reinforce women’s inequality in society, and undermine equal access to income and financial autonomy. Where women and children are at risk of abuse, household payments would further compromise their safety and reduce their ability to secure safe housing.

In the recent meeting of the Social Security Committee to discuss the Social Security Scotland Bill, discussion of split payments was introduced by Mark Griffin MSP, who lodged an amendment to the Bill that would require regulations be drafted to ensure that payments of Universal Credit be automatically split between two members of a single household. Unfortunately, the amendment was not supported by the majority of the Committee.

Given the discussion, we decided to send a letter to the Committee’s Convener to reaffirm our support for splitting the Universal Credit payment between members of a household, and to highlight the near-unanimous consensus on this issue by respondents to the consultation process. You can read the letter in full here.


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