Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil has welcomed a U-turn by the UK Government which will allow the Scottish Parliament to introduce new social security benefits. Writing in a national newspaper today, Mr Neil promised to keep the pressure on Chancellor George Osborne to scrap his damaging tax credit cut plans:
Let’s be crystal clear on something which I hope the SNP and Labour can wholeheartedly agree on – the Tory tax credit cuts plans are grossly unfair.
They will hit working families the length and breadth of the country, penalising people whom the Tories claim to be on the side of.
Tax credits are worth around £2 billion to Scottish households, and the cuts proposed from next April would see around £1,500 a year to 250,000 lower income families.
That’s why the SNP Government will do everything we possibly can to mitigate any cuts that are coming – as we already have done by spending almost £300 million to soften the impact of Tory welfare cuts, including the Bedroom Tax.
But we believe Holyrood should have complete control over all welfare, to allow us to design a system fit for Scotland’s needs – rather than just fixing bigger and bigger sticking plasters to Tory cuts.
And Labour should support us on that.
We welcome yesterday’s Tory U-turn, after nearly a year of pressure, which saw them table an amendment allowing the Scottish Government to introduce new social security benefits.
But we still need to see what Chancellor George Osborne will announce in his spending review before the end of the year. Osborne is already on the back foot after the House of Lords shot down his tax credit plans.
And the SNP will be using all of our influence at Westminster to keep him on the defensive and make him scrap these proposals.
Instead, Labour appear to have run up the white flag and accepted the tax credit cuts are inevitable.
And their plans to mitigate any cuts simply don’t add up.