Thousands of families are being pushed into poverty, with UK Tory Government welfare changes set to reduce spending on social security in Scotland by £500 million a year, Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP has said.
The 2019 Annual Report on Welfare Reform shows the largest welfare cuts since 2015 are as a result of the benefit freeze, two-child cap and changes to the work allowance.
Other findings include:
8,500 Scottish families have already had their income cut by the Universal Credit (UC) two-child limit and that figure will reach 40,000 at full rollout, bringing up to 20,000 children into poverty;
86% of UC claimants have seen a fall in the amount they can earn before losing UC entitlement;
91% of Scottish households affected by the Benefit Cap contain children and the cap has impacted on more than 3,000 households which are losing an average of more than £3,000 per year; and
Around 5,600 Scottish couples could lose up to £7,320 per year by 2023/2024 because of changes to Pension Credit eligibility.
Ms Somerville commented:
“The UK Government is still refusing to listen to the overwhelming evidence that Universal Credit, the benefit cap and the benefit freeze have caused significant hardship and misery to thousands of people and families. Yet this report – the seventh we have produced - lays bare the evidence that households, many with children, are having to cope with a reduction in their income of thousands of pounds.
“We are introducing the Scottish Child Payment to tackle child poverty head on. But there is no doubt that without the cuts inflicted on families this could go so much further.
“It is clear that by entirely devolving social security to Scotland we could create a system with the people of Scotland for the people of Scotland.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“The SNP Government continues to spend at least £100 million each year to mitigate the worst effects of the UK government welfare cuts – part of the £1.4 billion we spent last year to support low income households.
“This is money Scotland should be able to invest elsewhere to help pull people out of poverty and thrive. However, with relentless waves of Tory cuts coming at us year after year it’s like trying to empty the ocean with a thimble.
“Labour has failed to stand up for the most vulnerable in our society. In their eyes, a mitigating body is all the Scottish Parliament can ever aspire to.
“I refuse to resign myself to this pitiful vision for Scotland. The best way forward is to start managing all of our own affairs in an independent country.”
The Annual Welfare Reform Report can be viewed here.