We know that financial difficulty can affect anyone and how circumstances outwith an individual’s control can ultimately lead to poverty. Challenge Poverty Week is a time to shine a light on increasing inequality in society. This blog discusses the recent cut to Universal Credit and highlights some support available to those affected by financial difficulty.


Universal credit cut

In response to the pandemic, a £20 weekly uplift to universal credit was introduced by the UK Government. However, yesterday (6 October) despite calls from organisations across the UK to keep this uplift in place, plans to cut the £20 went ahead. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation points out that this is the biggest overnight cut to the rate of basic social security since in over 70 years. The fact that this cut has happened at a time when the furlough scheme has just ended and fuel prices are rising quicker than ever makes the situation all the more difficult for those affected.

At Money Advice Scotland, we believe that there needs to be a stronger bridge between those who make policy and those who are affected by it. For some policymakers, losing £20 a week may seem inconsequential; but for many people, the uplift was a lifeline that has now been taken away. We know that involving people with lived experience of financial difficulty in these decisions will not happen immediately, and at MAS, we will continue to work towards ensuring that people affected by financial difficulty have their voices heard. In the meantime it’s important for those who have been affected by the cut to know what to do if they’re worried about their finances.

Benefits check

We offer a free and impartial assessment of all the benefits an individual is entitled to and what they have to do to claim them.

The benefits calculator will ask some questions about circumstances, household, and finances before searching across all the benefits and grants that may be available to access, calculating how much the individual can get and the next steps they have to take.

Access the benefits calculator here.


Speak to someone

Debt and money worries can happen to anyone and it’s important to know that there is free, confidential, and non-judgemental support available. Our webchat service allows individuals to talk to an adviser who will listen, ask a few questions, and point people in the right direction as well as helping them prepare for money advice appointments. Our advisers are available to chat from Monday-Thursday, 8:30am-6:00pm, and Friday 8:30-3:30. If you access the webchat outside of these hours, you can leave a message and an adviser will get in touch with you when the chat reopens.


Get help with energy

Gas prices have risen to an all-time high, which will undoubtedly hit those affected by the cut in Universal Credit. The following may be helpful for these households:

Warm Home Discount Scheme: Several energy suppliers across the UK have signed up to the Warm Home Discount Scheme which offers eligible households a one-off discount of £140 to their energy bill. This year’s scheme opens on 18 October.

Cold Weather Payment: If the average temperature in your area falls below zero degrees Celsius over a seven day period(between November and March), eligible individuals could receive a payment of £25 (per seven day period) to put towards fuel costs. This year’s scheme opens on 1 November.

Winter Fuel Payment: This is different from the cold weather payment as it is only available to households with individuals over state pension age. The payment is one-off, to be used towards heating costs in the winter months and the amount can vary depending on circumstances. Most people of the required age will automatically get the Winter Fuel Payment if they receive state pension.

Child Winter Heating Assistance: This is a payment of £200 to help families with disabled children with the cost of heating. You do not need to apply for the payment if the child currently lives in Scotland. If the child or young person is eligible, you'll be paid automatically into the same account that your Disability Living Allowance for children is paid into.


The above (apart from Winter Fuel Payment) are means-tested, meaning that only certain people can receive these payments. Our webchat service can give more information about how to apply and who is eligible.


Part of Challenge Poverty week is about recognising that widening inequality in society is caused by a number of systemic failures. We feel proud to be part the efforts made by the third sector in Scotland to raise awareness of such issues. In the meantime however, help and support must be offered to those who have been most adversely affected by rising living costs and social security cuts.