Benefits must be uprated campaigners demand
A new report published today by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) in Scotland says that nearly one in five households on low incomes have gone both hungry and cold this year.
The Poverty in Scotland report includes data from a survey, thought to be the biggest of its kind, of 4,196 Scottish households in July and August this year.
Researchers found that people are “desperately” cutting back, with nearly two in three respondents (65%) saying they have cut back on an essential, while one in four (26%) have cut back on three or more essentials.
It added that the cost-of-living crisis is affecting people’s mental health, with three in four families with a child where someone has a disability and four in five families with a baby saying it was having a negative impact.
John Dickie, director of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, said: “It would be morally outrageous if the UK government failed to uprate benefits in line with inflation given this stark evidence of the acute financial pressures families are under.
“Cupboards across the country are bare, debts are mounting and family wellbeing is deteriorating.
“Here in Scotland Holyrood ministers need to continue to do the right thing and provide more support by doubling bridging payments for school aged children, as well as making sure that the soon-to-be £25 a week Scottish child payment holds its real terms value next year.”
The JRF is now urging both governments to protect low-income households from unaffordable costs in the coming months and to prevent the worst impacts of the crisis from ever happening again.
Chris Birt, JRF associate director for Scotland, said: “Taken with the work of others across the third sector, the picture provided by this report is clear and heart-breaking.
“This huge survey and the lived experience of people living in poverty must be heard. We wonder how the politicians who completely overlooked these people in the recent mini-budget can stand by their actions. Or can they now admit they’ve failed to insulate people from the worst?
“With that in mind it is shocking and morally indefensible to hear the UK Government just this week suggesting that they may not do what Rishi Sunak promised and uprate benefits by inflation next April as usual.
“This will mean yet another devastating blow, after a decade of sucker-punches, to the finances of people on the lowest incomes, and will cause extra terror and hardship for people who are already struggling to put food on the table and stay warm.
“While the UK government’s immoral abandonment of those who need the support most is indefensible, people are now looking to the Scottish Government for support and they deserve no less.”