Poverty: ‘impossible to ignore’

Posted on 13/10/2014 by

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‘children and families in Scotland are suffering’

povertyFamilies across Scotland are being hit hard by Westminster’s changes to the benefit system, according to a new report by the Scottish Government.

The report highlights the impact of changes to benefit uprating already implemented by Westminster since 2010-11. Over the six years to 2015-16, the changes made by Westminster are expected to reduce welfare expenditure in Scotland by around £6 billion.

This will result in families with two children in receipt of Child Benefit being £1,100 worse off over six years.

Mothers claiming statutory maternity pay will lose out on around £330 in 2015-16 as a result of changes to uprating of statutory maternity payment.

Speaking at the Annual Poverty Alliance Conference at Glasgow’s City Halls this morning, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “It is clear that the UK Government’s benefit reform programme unfairly impacts on some of the most vulnerable members of our society.

“This report also shows there are adverse consequences for women, particularly mothers and their children, who will be hit hardest by Westminster’s welfare cuts.

“Nearly every household in Scotland in receipt of a working age benefit will be affected by plans to introduce a two year benefit freeze. These planned changes will see Scotland’s benefit expenditure reduced by around £300 million in 2017-18.

“These welfare changes do not work for the people of Scotland. Poverty increased in Scotland in 2012-13 for the first time in a decade – an increase that is expected to continue.

“An additional 100,000 Scottish children will be living in poverty by 2020 because of UK welfare reforms and this is before the next round of cuts due in 2017-18.

“This is a direct result of choices made by the UK government – for example, since April 2012, the number of children whose families receive in-work tax credits has decreased by 120,000.

“It is unacceptable that due to the decisions of the UK Government children and families in Scotland are suffering.

“This is why in the Scottish Government submission to the Smith Commission for more powers, I set out the need for Scotland to have full responsibility over welfare powers. Full powers over welfare and social policy will allow us to tackle child poverty and allow Scotland to become a fairer country.

“Full responsibility over tax and national insurance will allow us to create jobs and build a more prosperous Scotland that is necessary to support our ambition for a fairer society.”

The Scottish Poverty Alliance held it’s annual conference ‘No Turning Back: The Future Fight Against Poverty in Scotland’ at the start of Challenge Poverty Week, which runs until 18 October.

Peter Kelly, Director of the Poverty Alliance, said:“We welcome the Deputy First Minister’s contribution to the discussion at our annual conference today. Poverty is the biggest issue Scotland faces, and with one in five children growing up in poverty it is impossible to ignore.

“Today was our first opportunity after the referendum to take stock and look to the future. We are working with our members, our partners on the Scottish Campaign on Welfare Reform and groups from across civil society to consider what new powers would mean for Scotland and the fight against poverty.

“We will be using the learning from this event, and our event later in the month on more powers, to consider the implications of further devolution and how any new powers can work alongside existing powers to ensure the eradication of poverty in Scotland once and for all.”

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