Social Security and In-work Poverty


About the Inquiry

In June 2018, the Committee agreed to hold an inquiry into social security and in-work poverty. The Committee will explore the potential impact of Universal Credit on in-work poverty. This will include consideration of recent research on trends in low wages and in-work poverty and indications of increasing financial need in working households including, for example, increased use of food banks.


The Committee issued a call for written views on 18 June 2018 and began taking oral evidence in September 2018.  The Committee published its report on the inquiry on 6 February 2019.  Read the published report here.


The Committee issued a call for views which can be accessed via the link below.  The closing date for written submissions was Thursday 23 August 2018

Read the call for views

Read the written submissions received

Read the news release

The Committee began taking evidence in September 2018.


On 13 September 2018, the Committee took evidence from: 

David Finch, Senior Research Fellow, Resolution Foundation;

Russell Gunson, Director, Institute for Public Policy Research Scotland;

Robert Joyce, Associate Director, Institute for Fiscal Studies;

Deborah Hay, Scotland Policy Officer, Joseph Rowntree Foundation;

Polly Jones, Project Manager, A Menu for Change Project, Oxfam Scotland.


On 27 September 2018, the Committee took evidence from:

 Rob Gowans, Policy Officer, Citizens Advice Scotland;

Victoria Todd, Head of LITRG Team, Low Income Tax Reform Group;

Kirsty McKechnie, Welfare Rights Worker, Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland.


On 25 October 2018, the Committee took evidence from:

Laura Ferguson, Operations Manager Scotland and North East, Trussell Trust;

Mandy Nutt, Project Manager, Tain Foodbank;

Joyce Leggate, Chair, Kirkcaldy Foodbank;

Evan Adamson, Community Connector, Instant Neighbour;

Mark Frankland, Manager, First Base Agency Dumfries;

Aziz Zeria, Treasurer, Crookston Community Group;

Steve Wright, Mission Strengthener, Edinburgh City Mission.


On 1 November 2018, the Committee took evidence from:

Dave Semple, PCS Chair of Scotland Committee, PCS Union.


On 8 November 2018, the Committee took evidence from:

Donna Ward, Policy Director, Children, Families and Disadvantage, Department for Work and Pensions;

Pete Searle, Policy Director, Working Age Benefits, Department for Work and Pensions;

Denise Horsfall, University Credit Area Director Scotland, Department for Work and Pensions.


On 22 November 2018, the Committee took evidence from:

Shirley-Anne Somerville, Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People, Scottish Government;

Alison Byrne, Deputy Director Reserved Benefits Division, Scottish Government;

David Souter, Head of Fair and Inclusive Workplaces Unit, Scottish Government

Read Meeting Papers and Official Reports here

Visits and Events

The committee visited Dundee on Monday 1st October 2018 as part of its inquiry. Universal Credit full service has been in operation in Dundee since November 2017.

The visit involved a visit to a foodbank, job centre plus, the new headquarters of Social Security Scotland and an evening event. The evening event allowed Members to hear first-hand accounts from individuals and their support workers who are experiencing in-work poverty.


On 3 October 2018 the Committee wrote to all Local Authorities regarding their financial provisions for Universal Credit.  We received 17 responses.


The Committees report on Social Security and In-work Poverty was published on 6 February 2019.  Read the published report here

The Scottish Government responded to the Committee's report on 9 May 2019.  Read the Scottish Governments response here.


On 23 April 2019 there was a Chamber debate on the findings of the Committees Social Security and In-Work Poverty report.  Watch it here.

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