The Scottish National Party (SNP) has slammed “heartless” and “callous” Tory plans to slash £12bn a year from the welfare budget, which they say will hurt ‘the working poor and vulnerable people’.
Chancellor George Osborne and Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith revealed in an article in the Sunday Times, that the UK government plans “significant cuts” to benefits over the course of this parliament.
According to reports, the UK government plans to ban anyone under the age of 25 from claiming housing benefits, reduce the benefit cap to £23,000, restrict child tax credits to two children and cuts to working families tax credits.
More details are expected to be revealed when George Osborne delivers an ’emergency budget’ next month (July), when even more welfare cuts are likely to be revealed.
Campaigners warn that further cuts to welfare spending could lead to an increase in child poverty and push more struggling families into the arms of loan sharks and food banks. The number of children living in relative poverty rose last year for the first time in a decade.
Figures from the Institute for Fiscal Studies show that progress made in reducing child poverty in the 90’s has now been reversed, with the number of children living in poverty expected to grow over the next few years.
The announcement from George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith came as an army of anti-austerity protesters converged on London at the weekend. More marches took place in other parts of the UK.
SNP Social Justice and Welfare spokesperson Eilidh Whiteford MP said: “The Tories have shown time and time again that they simply cannot be trusted on welfare.
“Their heartless cuts are hitting the working poor and vulnerable in our society hardest, including disabled people.
“Scotland can’t afford these cuts – we need powers over social security in Scotland to allow us to protect, support and empower people who need help, rather than pushing them into poverty with punitive cuts and unfair sanctions as the Tories are continuing to do.
“The Tories are intent on balancing the books of the backs of some of the poorest families in the country.
“This shows exactly where their priorities lie – and their relentless assault on hard-working people and the poorest shows no signs of letting up.
“This shows the true cost of leaving control over welfare in the hands of George Osborne, Iain Duncan Smith, and the Tory Party.
“And it demonstrates exactly why we need these powers transferred to Scotland, to ensure that hard-working families and venerable people no longer bear the brunt of the callous attitude of this UK Government.”
Stephen Timms MP, Labour’s Acting Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pension, responding to new reports of the Tory plan to cut working families’ tax credits, said:
“People who work hard, do the right thing and contribute will see their income fall because of George Osborne’s focus on cutting tax credits.
‘It’s time for the government to tackle the root causes of rising benefits spending; low pay and soaring rents rather than simply hitting working families.”
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