Politicians “must ensure no care leaver lives in poverty”

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Staf calls for wage and benefits reforms amid general election campaign. 

20th November 2019 by Gavin Stuart 0 Comments

Politicians must commit to tackling poverty by raising incomes and reforming social security following the general election, according to a Scottish charity.

Care leaver charity Staf said too many young people face poverty as they transition into adulthood, and warned that austerity and benefits cuts have intensified the problem.

One in five adults in Scotland is living in poverty, rising to one in four young people – with most living in working households.

Staf said young people leaving care are particularly vulnerable to falling into poverty as they face “significant barriers” such as lower wages and benefits sanctions.

The charity is now calling on potential MPs from all parties to ensure the Living Wage applies to all workers and to scrap the five-week wait for the first payment of Universal Credit.

Staf also wants to see social security services move away from sanctions in favour of a system which is “be person-centred, relationship-based and trauma-informed”.

Care leavers should also be exempted from the Shared Accommodation Rate for Housing Benefit to support them to secure and maintain their own tenancy, the charity urged.

Staf CEO Jo Derrick said: “We all believe that young people in and leaving care deserve care and love. Yet too many face poverty in their transition to adulthood.

"At this election we’re calling on all political parties to commit to action that ensures no care leaver lives in poverty.

“The next UK Government should ensure that no care leaver earns below the real Living Wage or is subject to punitive benefit sanctions or arbitrary waiting periods for benefits.

"Turning the rising tide of poverty in our society is our collective responsibility – there can be no delay in taking the action required.”