Single mothers, ethnic minorities, and disabled people are some of the hardest hit by tax and public spending changes introduced since 2010, with disabled people in particular seeing their annual incomes slashed by thousands of pounds a year.
New research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), pushished earlier this week, found that the biggest losers of Tory austerity measures are families with at least one disabled adult and one disabled child, who stand to lose £5,000 year on average due to tax and welfare reforms by 2022.
The report also warns that white households are predicted to lose on average £550 a year between 2012–2022, while black households lose over £2,900 and Asian households lose an average of £1200.
And according to the report’s findings, women incomes have been cut by almost six-times more than men. Women are on course to lose an average of £250 a year, compared to just £40 for men, rising to over £1,200 for women in the 35–44 age group compared with less than £350 for men.
Whilst the report focuses heavily on the impact of Westminster-imposed austerity on household incomes across Scotland, it also draws attention to how some socio-economic and ethnic groups across the UK have been hit much harder than others.
Returning to the impact of Westminster cuts on families in Scotland, the report finds that by 2022 household incomes in Scotland will drop by (as quoted):
8.5% for Scotland’s poorest families
8% for larger families
7.8% for female lone parent households
6.5% for black households
5% for severely disabled people
4% for younger people
The report also predicts that child poverty in Scotland will have increased by 8% by 2021–22, resulting in around 80,000 more children in poverty.
John Wilkes, Head of EHRC Scotland, said: “The findings show just how stark and how unequal the combined impact of the recession, austerity and public spending cuts have been.
“Using this new approach to assess the combined impact of tax and spend policy reveals that it is the most marginalised who suffer the most.
“We already know that ethnic minorities, disabled people, and lone parents are much more likely to live in poverty than other Scots, and face far higher than average unemployment.
“What this research clearly shows is that we can and must consider the different impacts on different groups before we make major policy changes.
“Otherwise we risk increasing the inequalities in our society. Positive policies in Scotland such as mitigating effects of some social security changes has saved many from even greater income losses.”
One of our report’s authors, Howard Reed, who presented the findings to the Scottish Parliament, said: “This research shows that the combined impact of tax and social security reforms since 2010 has hit the poorest households in Scotland hardest and has also had detrimental effects for particular kinds of families, especially women, lone parents and households with three or more children, black households, and households with severely disabled people.
“The Scottish government’s own spending choices have mitigated some – but not all – of the adverse consequences of the tax and social security decisions made by the UK government in Westminster.”
A seperate report, published today by the Resolution Foundation, warns that 29% of Scottish children could be living below the breadline within five years.
The report warns that child poverty in Scotland is on course to reach a 20-year high by 2023-24, and calls on the Scottish Government to “implement much more radical changes to social security than it has done to date”.
Adam Corlett, Senior Economic Analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “Child poverty across Scotland is on course to rise substantially in the coming years, and risks reaching a 20-year high by 2023.
“This would mean a further 60,000 children across Scotland falling below the poverty line, and the Scottish government missing its target to reduce child poverty by over 100,000 children.
“This worrying rise in poverty is almost entirely driven by UK-wide decisions, such as the £12bn worth of working-age benefits cuts.
“But that doesn’t mean policy makers in Scotland are powerless to respond.
“If the Scottish government is to meet its ambitious – and welcome – child poverty reduction targets, it will need to implement much more radical changes to social security than it has done to date.”