Scottish civic bodies criticise 'regressive' budget

By staff writers
July 10, 2015

Major third-sector organisations across Scotland have highlighted the serious regressive measures contained in the UK Government's Summer Budget.

They say it will worsen child poverty, make it harder to escape the poverty trap and implements social security cuts which “have the potential to be just as damaging as the ‘bedroom tax’.”

The organisations concerned include including the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), Shelter Scotland, the Child Poverty Action Group, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) and Citizens Advice Scotland.

The impact of the Conservative budget on young people has been a particular concern, with campaigners pointing out that the decision to axe housing benefit for people under the age of 21 “completely removes the safety net” in place to protect vulnerable young people.

Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland, commented: "This is a shameful decision which is unjustified and cruel. It completely removes the safety net that is in place to protect young people whose circumstances often prevent them from staying in or returning to the family home… we have a duty to support young people.”

Meanwhile, Graeme Smith, General Secretary of the STUC, said: “The Chancellor's so-called National Living Wage, pitched at £7.20 next year, will be nothing of the kind and is simply a cheap gimmick aimed at undermining the successful work we have undertaken to promote a meaningful Living Wage that genuinely helps people out of in work poverty.”

“The welcome move on higher minimum wage cannot disguise the truth: this Budget that damages the economic security of working families, and takes us further down the road to being a two-nation economy, with higher child poverty for millions and lower taxes for the better off”, said Alison Garnham, CEO of the Child Poverty Action Group.

Susan McPhee, Head of Policy, Citizens Advice Scotland, declared: “We are very concerned about the impact these cuts will have on the poorest and most vulnerable Scots – many of whom have already been hit hard by the previous welfare reforms. Once again it looks like the burden is falling on those who are least able to cope.

"We of course welcome the move to a living wage economy, but it looks like for most people this will not be enough to offset the impact of the wider cuts. We note too that the projected minimum wage rise to £7.20 next year still falls short of the Scottish living wage which is currently £7.85.”

Mary Taylor, Chief Executive of the SFHA, said: “Freezing working age benefits for four years and restricting tax credits and Universal Credit to two children, affecting those born after April 2017, will only serve to make it harder to escape the poverty trap.”

“The Federation is wholeheartedly against removing the automatic entitlement to Housing Benefit for 18 to 21-year-olds as it will have an adverse affect on the life chances and employment prospects of 28,000 plus claimants in this group, over half of whom have young families of their own, as it could, for many, place their homes at risk.

“Such cuts have the potential to be just as damaging as the ‘bedroom tax’.”

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

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