UK government must rethink and Scottish Government must step up its efforts, says charity
UK welfare cuts have plunged low income families into financial misery, a new report has found.
A study shows that those who can least afford it are thousands of pounds a year worse off as a result of Westminster austerity policies.
The Scottish Government’s Impact of UK Welfare Policy on Families with Children report looks at how policies implemented since 2015 have impacted.
Most significant has been the four year freeze to working-age benefits, which is estimated to reduce annual welfare spending in Scotland by £370 million by 2020/21.
Other significant impacts include the reduction in Universal Credit work allowance (£250m reduction by 2020/21), the two child limit for tax credits and Universal Credit elements (£95m reduction), and the removal of the family element for child tax credit and Universal Credit (£50m reduction).
John Dickie, director of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said: "This is further evidence of the devastating impact UK social security cuts are having on families.
“These cuts are the key driver behind growing child poverty. UK ministers need to rapidly rethink cuts to universal credit and start to update family benefits in line with inflation.
“But the Scottish Government must also use every tool in its toolbox to support families and prevent child poverty. Using new powers to top up child benefit by £5 a week for example would lift 30,000 children out of poverty in itself.”
Marion Davis, head of policy at One Parent Families Scotland, responded: “Today’s new report show that child poverty is being permitted to increase rather than being tackled head on. That some lone parents are estimated to lose more than £4,000 per year is a shocking statistic.
"But perhaps most damning of all is the impression that it is Westminster government action – rather than merely inaction - that is actively driving down the life chances of single parents and their children. The huge spike in the number of children in poverty whose single parents are in employment strongly suggests that the government policy of forcing people into inflexible and low paid jobs is deeply counterproductive.
"Instead we need quality flexible opportunities that work for families, and a fair benefits system that supports them. How many more children must be resigned to poverty before the government accepts this?”
Cabinet secretary for communities, social security and equalities, Angela Constance said: “This report clearly sets out the devastating impact the UK government’s welfare cuts are having on the people of Scotland.
“By the end of this decade, the cuts being imposed on Scotland since 2010 are expected to reduce welfare spending in Scotland by nearly £4 billion a year.
“As well as moral objections, taking money away from low income families makes no economic sense. This is money taken from the pockets of families that are already surviving on low incomes and pushing them into crisis, debt and is creating problems that have to be picked up by other public services and emergency aid such as the Scottish Welfare Fund and foodbanks.
“In Scotland we are taking a different approach. Our new social security system will recognise social security as a basic human right and we will ensure that people are treated with dignity and respect.”