Legislated in 2011, Universal Credit was a welfare reform set to combine the six “legacy” benefits but the national roll out has been embroiled in controversy, the latest being calls from experts warning MPs that proposed single household payments could make it easier for domestic abusers to exert financial control.
As part of a historic shake up in welfare in Scotland the Holyrood government has introduced automatic split payments of Universal Credit.
This is a huge victory and a critical one for women experiencing domestic abuse
Although official statistics do not identify financial control as a distinct form of abuse, a survey from charity Women’s Aid looking at experiences of financial abuse and the implications for Universal Credit found 58 per cent of women asked said their partners use them as a source of money.
Feminist organisation Engender alongside Women’s Aid and other women’s and anti-poverty organisations called the Scottish government to use their new powers to avoid a single household payment as in England and Wales.
Engender spokeswoman Maxine Blaine told The Big Issue: “By enshrining the commitment to individual payments in law, the Scottish Parliament has paid attention to the different needs of men and women. We’re thrilled to have a positive outcome that will promote and protect women’s financial autonomy and safety.”
Writing on its Facebook page Scottish Women’s Aid said: