Researchers reveal the extent to which the poor have been punished by UK welfare reforms
Scottish households will be robbed of more than £2 billion a year as a result of Tory welfare reforms.
A bombshell report shows not just that deprived area will be hit hardest but the shocking extent to which they are being punished.
In a report to the Scottish Parliament’s social security committee, researchers from Sheffield Hallam University showed that by 2020 Scotland can expect to lose just over £1bn a year as a result of welfare reforms introduced by the UK government since 2015.
Researchers estimated that pre-2015 reforms are already costing claimants in Scotland just over £1.1bn a year. This brings the cumulative loss expected from all the post-2010 welfare reforms up to more than £2bn a year.
The biggest losers from the latest round of UK government welfare reforms are once again the poorest
The most deprived local authorities in Scotland are worst affected. Glasgow is set to lose the most, with the research showing that the loss from the post-2015 welfare reforms is expected to average £400 a year per working age adult.
West Dunbartonshire loses £390 a year per working age adult, and North Ayrshire £380.
The least affected local authorities are the Shetland Islands, Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen, at less than £200 a year.
The four-year freeze in the value of most working-age benefits and reductions in the work allowances within universal credit (which are taking over from tax credits) are expected to lead to the biggest financial losses in Scotland.
In addition, the research found that the new, lower benefit cap – £20,000 a year per household – is likely to impact on 11,000 households in Scotland, with an average loss of more than £2,000 a year. The pre-2016 cap previously affected only 900 households in Scotland.
John Dickie, director of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, said Tory welfare reforms are having a devastating impact on a whole generation: “Families with children have already borne the brunt of massive cuts since 2010, and child poverty is forecast to rise by 50% by the end of the decade.
“With families in and out of work already making impossible choices between paying the rent, meeting energy bills and putting food on the table it’s frightening to imagine the impact on Scottish households of losing a £1billion a year.”
“If the Prime Minister is serious about supporting families who are just about managing she needs to reverse the freeze on benefits, make sure support for families rises in line with inflation and abandon cuts to work allowances within universal credit.”
SNP MSP Sandra White, convener of the social security committee, said: “Our welfare system was meant to be a safety net to help those most in need in our communities. Yet today this research shows that the biggest losers from the latest round of UK government welfare reforms are once again the poorest in our society.
“Whilst Scotland will take control of 15% of welfare spend its clear that the majority of people in Scotland will continue to be negatively impacted upon due to the UK government’s approach to welfare.
“I hope this research acts as a wake-up call to the UK government that their approach to welfare reform just isn’t working.”
While much of the welfare system will remain reserved to Westminster, important elements will be devolved to Holyrood as part of the post-independence referendum Smith settlement.
A consultation on what the new Scottish welfare landscape should look like recently closed – with charities leading calls for the creation of a new, humane system.