Support for families and individuals hit hard by “harsh” Tory welfare cuts will continue to rise in 2015, says the SNP.
Chancellor George Osborne confirmed in December that Scotland faces further real-term cuts, on top of the £25bn in welfare cuts already imposed on struggling families by Westminster.
SNP said the impact of further cuts will be acutely felt by the least well off in society, at a time when food bank use has rocketed and one in five people in Scotland are living in poverty.
The poorest in society “continue to pay the price for the failed Tory austerity agenda”, said SNP work and pensions spokesperson Dr Eilidh Whiteford.
“In recent years, food bank use has rocketed and one in five people in Scotland now live in poverty”, said Dr Witeford.
Dr Whiteford said the “Smith Commission did not deliver the full powers over welfare”, which are “necessary to better enable us to build a fairer Scotland”.
“The Scottish Government will continue to do all it can to help those feeling the worst impacts of Westminster cuts”, by providing £104m in total to “mitigate welfare reforms imposed by Westminster”.
“This will include £38m for the Welfare Fund, £35m Bedroom Tax support, £23m for the Council Tax Reduction Scheme and £8m for advice services – who are currently struggling to keep up with demand.”
Scotland “will also end the collection of historic Poll Tax debts – a move which means no one who registered to vote in the referendum will have to worry about councils using their details to look up historic debts”.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced she will “appoint an independent advisor on poverty and inequality to advise on actions needed to make progress – the first appointment of its kind”.
Dr Whiteford added: “The Scottish Government will also continue to pay the Living Wage to all those covered by their pay policy – and will encourage all other businesses to do the same.
“This will provide further help to low paid workers – and help tackle in-work poverty which has also risen under the Tories”, she said..
“In addition, the SNP’s continued roll out of childcare hours will see parents saving up to £707 per child per year as the roll out of 16 hours per week for all three, four and vulnerable two year olds continues.
“With job creating powers and full control over welfare, we could take more action to strengthen and grow the Scottish economy while ensuring support for our most vulnerable people.
“However, in government, the SNP remains absolutely committed to doing whatever we can to ensure people across the country are protected from the worst impacts of harsh Tory cuts.”