By Marc McLean 31 Jan 2013 08:31
ACCORDING to Holyrood, Con-Dem cuts will have a devastating impact on those struggling to make ends meet.
FIFTEEN thousand more Scots kids will be plunged into poverty through Westminster welfare cuts, the Scottish Government will claim today.
The Con-Dems are being accused of hitting Scotland’s poorest families hardest with their overhaul of the benefits system.
Welfare rises will be capped at one per cent for three years rather than being aligned with inflation, which will see thousands of struggling single parents lose out.
Scottish ministers insist the reforms will have a “devastating” impact and estimate that another 15,000 children will fall below the poverty line.
This figure does not include the UK Government’s changes to working tax credits and child benefit.
Speaking before a Scottish Parliament debate on child benefit today, SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn said:
“We can see clearly the devastating impact of Westminster’s welfare changes, with 15,000 children being pushed into poverty as a result of the one per cent uprating of working-age benefits.
“We know that child benefit cuts will see a family of two lose over £1100 and a family with one child over £650.
“This does not take into account the UK Government’s other welfare changes that are having a destructive effect on people’s lives.
“While we in Scotland pursue a policy of greater equality and social justice, Westminster is determined to implement significant spending reductions across the welfare state that goes against those principles.”
The MSP – deputy convener of Holyrood’s welfare reform committee – added:
“The UK Government’s welfare reform agenda is being driven by austerity – not by fairness.”
The Coalition’s controversial Welfare Benefits Uprating Bill will peg benefit rises from next April. An impact assessment published by the Government suggested single parents would be most affected by the cap, losing £5 a week.
Working households handed tax credits will be an average of £3 a week worse off, though the Treasury insist this will be cancelled out by an increase in the basic rate income tax allowance, which will come into effect in April.
The Department for Work and Pensions estimate that the uprating measures in 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 will result in around an extra 200,000 children being in relative income poverty compared with uprating benefits by the Consumer Price Index.
John Dickie, head of Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said:
“Yet again we are seeing the very poorest families and children being hit hardest by UK tax and benefit policies. UK ministers should be ashamed that policies are being developed that are pushing more children into poverty.”
The campaign group argue that many families with at least one working parent are also going to be affected. Thousands working to stay just above the breadline will be dragged into poverty.
Peter Kelly, of the Poverty Alliance, said:
“These reforms impact on people on the lowest incomes, and both people who are in or out of work. The UK Government seem to be justifying these reforms on the grounds of fairness between those working and the unemployed.
“But many people affected are those claiming working tax credits – and we’ve already seen child benefit frozen too.
“We need MPs to challenge these decisions which are having such a devastating impact in Scotland.”
A DWP spokeswoman said:
“We’ve protected benefits for disabled people and pensioners and committed to helping people who claim working age benefits and tax credits, increasing this support by one per cent.
“Even with plans to limit increases to benefits, people will still see their benefit rates rise – this is not a freeze in support and universal credit will make three million households better off.”
The Scottish Daily Record