Scottish parties condemn budget impact on most vulnerable

By staff writers
July 8, 2015

The SNP, Labour and the Scottish Greens says that Chancellor Osborne’s Summer Budget is not good news for Scotland, especially hitting the most vulnerable.

Scottish National Party Depute Leader and Treasury spokesperson Stewart Hosie said: "Osborne’s budget will hit hard working families, the poorest and young people the hardest. He has continued with his harsh austerity agenda – particularly the savage cuts in tax credits. Any increase in the minimum wage is of course welcome, but the reality is that the good will be undone by the Tory cuts to the incomes of people who can least afford it. And the living wage in Scotland is currently £7.85 – George Osborne is proposing to see it effectively lowered to £7.20.

"This Budget was a sermon from the high priest of an austerity cult – taking from the poor and hard working people and giving to the richest. The Tories' cuts in the living standards of young people are particularly severe, including scrapping student grants. The SNP Government will continue to deliver grants for the poorest students in Scotland, demonstrating the benefits of having these powers in the Scottish Parliament, rather than in Tory hands at Westminster.

"There were measures which we welcome such as the freeze in fuel duty, but there was nothing in the Budget to encourage innovation or exports.

"The UK Government are imposing this austerity Budget on Scotland on the basis of having a single Tory MP north of the border – the electorate in Scotland overwhelmingly rejected austerity at the election by returning 56 SNP MPs, and the Tories secured their lowest share of the vote in Scotland since 1865.

"This Budget underlines the need to have economic and welfare powers in Scotland, so that we can build a more dynamic economy to boost tax revenues, and a fairer society where policies benefit the many, not deliver tax cuts for millionaires."

Labour’s shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray said: “The Tories came to office claiming that this Government would be on the side of working families. Before the Budget has even been published it is becoming clear that, once again, it is working people who will bear the brunt of this Government’s cuts.

“With their proposed cuts to tax credits, the Budget risks cutting the feet from under people who do the right thing, go out to work every day and try to do the best by their families.

“Nearly 300,000 families in Scotland, including half a million children, will be affected by George Osborne’s cuts to tax credits, at the same time as he refuses to rule out a further tax cut for millionaires.

“This Government needs to be tackling the root causes of the rising welfare bill – low pay and rising housing costs – to bring down the deficit in a sustainable way.”

Meanwhile, Scottish Green Party co-convenor Patrick Harvie declared: “This budget confirms the Conservative Party’s ruthless disregard for the wellbeing of the majority, as they recklessly pursue an unjust mission to decimate our welfare state and public services.

“The rise in the inheritance tax threshold will benefit just the wealthiest, at a time when we’re seeing swingeing cuts to welfare hit the most vulnerable in society hardest.

“The living wage commitment is still less than the Green election proposal of £10 per hour by 2020, and against the backdrop of the attack on welfare, it’s clear that Osborne is giving with one hand and taking away with the other. In the context of £4.5 billion cuts to tax credits this policy is clearly not a real Living Wage, it is a sleight of hand, to distract from the corporate tax cuts to the very businesses which have created so much working poverty.

“This Government’s ideological obsession with welfare cuts will plunge thousands more people into poverty, and I’m deeply concerned that we will now inevitably see a steep rise in the numbers facing needless hardship, while the services they rely upon also struggle from financial pressures and lack of support.

“We see yet more reckless, short-term policies that put the profits of multinational companies over the public interest, with more talk of ‘security’ purely in terms of a Cold War-era mind set.

“Food scarcity, insecure employment and climate change are among the threats that people in the UK and abroad face in their daily lives, and our priority must be to ensure the genuine security of those whom governments have a responsibility to protect.

“Today’s announcements can only send the UK further in completely the wrong direction, away from the more equal and sustainable society we need. The details make devastating reading when considering the pain already felt in communities across the UK, and the absolute lack of any action from this Government to finally face up to their climate change responsibilities.”

* Full 2015 budget coverage and commentary from Ekklesia at: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/budget2015

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