Scottish Parliament workers to miss advance Christmas pay due to Universal Credit

HUNDREDS of Scottish Parliament workers are to miss advanced Christmas pay this year because of the roll out of Universal Credit.

General view of the Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood, Edinburgh.
General view of the Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood, Edinburgh. Ponds landscaping

Normally, the 1,400 staff on the payroll are paid on December 22nd to help with the financial burden of Christmas.

But an email seen by the Evening News - sent from the Scottish Parliament’s chief executive office - revealed they will now be paid on December 28th.

Breaking the bad news to workers, the email reads: “The SPCB (Scottish Parliament Corporate Body) has reviewed the way in which December salaries are paid.

General view of the Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood, Edinburgh. Ponds landscaping

“In previous years, you were paid before Christmas leaving an extended period between the December and January pay dates.

“The SPCB has decided that from this year, December salaries will be paid on the second last working day of the month. This will standardise the length of time between salary payments throughout the year. This year, pay day will be Friday 28 December.”

Under Universal Credit, anyone making a claim during December could lose some or all of their entitlement for December as two salary payments could fall within their assessment period.

The Scottish Parliament was unable to provide details on how many of their 1,400 staff are in receipt of Universal Credit.

However, the corporate body has agreed to introduce an optional December salary advance, the amount of which will be the lesser of £500 or 50 per cent of normal net salary.

Uddingston and Bellshill MSP Richard Lyle (SNP), who brought staff concerns to the attention of parliamentary authorities, said: “Universal Credit is a broken system - driving kids into poverty and forcing more families to rely on foodbanks just to get by. It should be halted now, and not before time.

“But social security isn’t just there for those out of work. Many on lower incomes might just need that little extra support to help with the cost of living.

“Christmas can be a really challenging time, with huge extra costs for households. Employers should have the flexibility to help their staff out.

“But a welfare system which works against this and could put people’s incomes at risk is clearly broken.

“This is a reminder - extremely close to home - of the inflexibility of this failed policy.”

Edinburgh Western MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton (Lib Dem) said: “I think in this day and age, the pressure at Christmas is especially hard, but given that Parliament are extending the opportunity for advances, it is clear they have thought that through. But I think this says more about Universal Credit than it does about parliamentary pay.

“This is another symptom of how unpredictable and ill-thought out the roll out of Universal Credit has been.”

Danny Phillips, spokesman for Unison Scotland, said: “This should once again highlight the mess the system is in and the misery and havoc it’s causing across Scotland.

“We would once again call on the UK Government to think again about Universal Credit and would call on employers like Scottish Parliament to do what they can to mitigate the worst aspects of this benefit.”A A Parliament spokeswoman said: “The Scottish Parliament’s overriding concern is to be sure nobody loses out financially.”