The SNP has called on the Tory government to scrap the “callous” benefit freeze that will cut a further £4.4 billion from social security payments – almost a billion more than planned – as the toxic Tory policy enters its fourth and final year.
The benefit freeze, introduced by the Tories in 2016, has seen most working-age benefits remain at the same value as in 2015/16 whilst prices of goods and services have risen by 6.6% since then – a massive real-terms cut to people’s income.
By the end of its final year the benefit freeze will have negatively affected more than 27 million people, and plunged 400,000 people into poverty.
This year alone will see a huge number of social security claimants worse off by hundreds of pounds – particularly people with disabilities and families with children who could be left over £700 poorer due to the additional detrimental impact of the Tory two-child cap.
If the freeze hadn’t been imposed, parents with one child would be better off by £255.20 this year and a disabled, lone parent on Universal Credit looking for work after April 2017 would be better off by £500.64.
Ending the freeze one year early would also benefit 2.1 million people in Scotland, with 800,000 benefiting from £100 or more this year, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has said.
Neil Gray MP, SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “The Tory government must scrap the final year of the callous benefit freeze and increase benefits in line with inflation before a further £4.4 billion – almost a billion more than planned – is taken from the pockets of those least able to bear it.
“By the end of its final year, the freeze will have affected more than 27 million people – five times the population of Scotland.
“Families with children and people with disabilities will be particularly worse off due to the two-child cap and cuts to disabled benefits, two policies also implemented by the Tories.
“Targeting austerity at the most disadvantaged and pursuing a policy that will plunge thousands into poverty is nothing short of a moral outrage, and this Tory government should hang its head in shame.
“The benefits freeze is a political choice, not a necessity, and the SNP opposed the policy from the beginning.
“The UK government must end the cruel approach and lift the freeze immediately.”
Disclaimer: This is an official press release from the Scottish National Party (SNP).