Monday, 1 April 2013

Westminster's Day of Shame as 'Catastrophic' Welfare Changes Set to Bite

The SNP has highlighted the UK government’s failures in protecting the most vulnerable on the day that Westminster’s ‘catastrophic’ welfare changes are implemented.

Today (Monday) the changes to the welfare system will see:
  • The ‘Bedroom Tax’ come into force, with 105,000 households across Scotland losing an average £600 a year.
  • Working age benefits rises will be capped to one per cent for the next three years reducing the total income of Scottish households by around £210 million by 2014-15.
  • Child benefit will be frozen for the third year in a row, seeing, cumulatively, between 2011-12 and 2015-16, a family with two children receiving over £1,100 less than they would had Child Benefit been uprated by RPI inflation.
  • Scotland’s council tax budget will be cut by 10% but Scottish households have been protected by the Scottish Government and COSLA plugging the £40 million funding gap.
  • The social fund will be abolished but the £33million Scottish Welfare Fund will be set up to benefit an extra 100,000 vulnerable Scots.
Westminster’s welfare reform programme – encompassing the cuts in the UK Budget, autumn statement and spending review – comes to a total of £4.5billion.

SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn, deputy convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee, said:

“It doesn’t matter what bracket you fall into – young, poor, disadvantaged, elderly – Westminster is hurting the life chances of people who depend on the support of the welfare state with its catastrophic changes to benefits.

“The Westminster system is wrongly persistent in believing that these are the groups who should bear the brunt of their austerity agenda.

“From introducing the ‘bedroom tax’ to freezing child benefit, it is little wonder that people in Scotland simply do not have faith in the current Westminster operated welfare system.

“We need a system that reflects Scotland’s values – a system that ensures fair and decent support for those that need it most, protecting the vulnerable and supporting households rather than seeing them be subjected to aggressive cuts from Westminster.

“A fairer welfare system for Scotland can only be achieved with independence and control over all welfare policies so that we can devise policies for the benefit of the people of Scotland.

“A recent YouGov poll found that 52% of respondents thought that the Scottish Government should be responsible for all tax and spending decisions in Scotland – including oil and gas tax revenue, with 35% supporting Westminster control.

"Scotland needs a Yes vote on 18th September 2014 to enable us to invest our abundant resources in building the fairer and more prosperous Scotland that we all want to see."

Notes:

Yougov (Fieldwork: 20th-22nd March 2013)
Sample size: 1105 Scottish adults

Which government do you think should be responsible for all tax and spending decisions in Scotland, including tax revenues from oil and gas?

The UK government 35%
The Scottish government 52%
Don't know 13%

Which government do you think would be best at deciding welfare and pensions policy for Scotland?

The UK government 34%
The Scottish government 53%
Don't know 13%
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