The Tory government at Westminster has cut support for disabled people, vulnerable young adults, the bereaved – and are now abandoning their commitment to pensioners.
Our representatives at Holyrood, Westminster and in government, continue to fight these damaging Tory cuts to the safety net of our welfare system.
In Scotland we have chosen to take a different path. With limited new powers over aspects of social security, we’ll build a system with fairness, dignity and respect at its heart.
Here’s why the Tory welfare cuts must end.
1. By 2021, the total cumulative loss to people in Scotland as a result of Tory welfare cuts will be over £2 billion per year.
Between 2015 and 2020 the Tory government plan further cuts to housing benefit, disability benefits and tax credits for low income families. Researchers from Sheffield Hallam University estimate that in Scotland these cuts will be more than those already made by the Tory-led Coalition government.
According to think-tank Policy in Practice, the cuts – and cost of living increases over the same period – will leave low income families £2,500 worse off per year by 2020.
2. The Tory government’s two child tax credit cap and rape clause policies are inhumane.
By 2021, an estimated 50,000 families in Scotland will be worse off as a result of the UK Government’s decision to prevent low income families from claiming tax credits for more than two children.
The Rape Clause requires women to prove they’ve been raped in order to qualify for child tax credits for a third child. Read more about the rape clause here.
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.
3. Support for people who have lost loved ones has been cut.
The Tory government are cutting Bereavement Payments and Widowed Parents’ Allowance – making grieving families worse off. According to the UK Government’s own analysis, 75 per cent of families entitled to Widowed Parents’ Allowance will be worse off.
4. The Tory plan to close 23 Job Centres in Scotland – including half of all Job Centres in Glasgow – is completely inappropriate and must be abandoned.
The closures to Job Centres announced by the DWP will affect some of the poorest communities in Scotland – and the same low income families who are already struggling at the hands of Tory austerity.
5. Planned cuts to support for people with disabilities and long-term illnesses will affect over 63,000 people in Scotland.
The Tory government announced last year that the people who receive Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and have some ability to work, or will do so in the future, will receive a £30 per week cut to their entitlement.
The SNP has consistently opposed this change. The UK Government is failing sick and disabled people and must urgently reverse this cut to.
6. The UK Government should halt the roll-out of their failed Universal Credit benefit, which is leaving people worse off and causing major hardship.
The Resolution Foundation think-tank has also estimated that planned cuts to the Universal Credit Work Allowance – the level of income a household in receipt of Universal Credit can earn before their award starts getting tapered away – could see a working single parent lose up to £2,800 a year.
And with a minimum in-built six week delay to receive the first, monthly payment, the benefit is pushing low income households into further hardship and rent arrears.
7. The freeze on increases in working age benefits should end.
We have consistently opposed the freeze on working age benefits, which will now have a more damaging impact on household incomes than initially expected as a result of higher inflation.
The Resolution Foundation has estimated that a couple with one earner and two children will be £720 worse off every year by 2020.
8. The UK Government has put vulnerable young people at risk of homelessness by removing support for housing from under 21s.
In April, the UK Government removed entitlement to housing support for 18 to 21 year-olds in receipt of Universal Credit. The Scottish Government has now extended the Scottish Welfare Fund on an interim basis to ensure young people in Scotland are not affected by these cuts.
9. The Tories appear to be abandoning their own commitment to protect pensions.
Both Theresa May and the Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, have refused to rule out abandoning the State Pension triple lock. Currently, pensions are increased by the higher of inflation, average earnings or 2.5 per cent.