Tory cuts to public spending and social security will push a further 1 million children into poverty across the UK by 2021-22. Shamefully, the UK government has even scrapped UK-wide poverty reduction targets.
In contrast, in Scotland we’re mitigating Tory welfare cuts, raising incomes and improving the life chances of all children. And we’ve introduced stronger poverty reduction targets than those ditched by the Tories.
But with most welfare powers still held by Westminster, we’re tackling poverty with one hand tied behind our back.
Here are just five Tory cuts that are pushing up poverty.
1. Freezing increases to most working-age benefits for four years.
The benefit freeze will mean incomes will fall behind the rising cost of living. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found that the freeze alone will account for pushing half a million people across the UK into poverty.
2. Child Tax Credits have been limited to families first two children.
By 2021, an estimated 50,000 families in Scotland will be worse off as a result of the UK government’s two-child cap, preventing low income families from claiming much needed tax credits.
3. The disastrous roll-out of Universal Credit.
The roll-out of Universal Credit has been a disaster, causing unnecessary hardship, with families falling behind in rent payments and increasingly relying on emergency welfare support and foodbanks. And new families applying for tax credits will also lose £545 a year as a result of the removal of the family element of Universal Credit – affecting 91,000 families.
4. Cuts to support for over 63,000 people with disabilities and long-term illnesses who are entitled to ESA.
From April 2017 people who receive Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and have some ability to work, or will do so in the future, received a £30 per week cut to their entitlement.
5. Limiting the total benefit entitlement of families.
In 2013 the UK government introduced a household benefit cap to limit the benefit entitlement of families. The cap was reduced in 2016 – a change that was expected to impact nearly a quarter of a million children from low income families.
But thankfully, because of the Scottish Government, some of the the Tory cuts won’t push up poverty here because:
- The Bedroom Tax is fully mitigated in Scotland
- Council tax support cuts are fully mitigated in Scotland with the introduction of the Council Tax Reduction scheme
- Removal of housing support for young people is mitigated through the Scottish Welfare Fund