Charities and other organisations must stand united to fight against the UK government’s £12bn proposed welfare cuts, Scotland’s Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil will say today.
Speaking at the annual Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) conference on Friday, Alex Neil will encourage delegates, campaigners and welfare workers to come together to bring an end to the UK government’s austerity agenda.
He will also argue that the UK Government’s ‘Full Employment and Welfare Bill’, which will freeze the main rates of the majority of working age benefits and tax credits for two years, will reduce the amount Scotland can spend on supporting and protecting the poorest families by £130 million.
Around 11 million UK households will be directed affected by the benefits freeze, including an estimated one million Scottish families.
Mr Neil will say: “The UK Government’s proposed £12 billion cuts will have a detrimental impact on Scotland and will do nothing to tackle the scourge of child poverty.
“We need to present a united front against these additional measures and I would encourage every organisation working to tackle inequalities and fighting poverty, to add their voice to this debate.
“Through our Child Poverty Strategy we are already working with partners to reduce levels of poverty amongst households with children and to break inter-generational cycles of poverty, inequality and deprivation.
“The Scottish Government, alongside CPAG and others wants a more equal society, we want to create jobs and lift people out of poverty, and we will continue to listen to the advice of organisations who are working directly with families across the country.
“However if we are having to fund mitigation then we have a much harder challenge ahead of us. Our resources should be used to take positive action and tackle existing inequalities, not fight just to keep people at a standing position.”
He will add that the Smith Commission proposals, which includes new limited welfare powers for Scotland, will allow the Scottish government to “make real inroads into child poverty outcomes”.
“We will work with all concerned to make sure that the new powers we have will lead to better results for people in Scotland.”
John Dickie, Director of CPAG in Scotland, said: “With key areas of social security set to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament, today’s Child Poverty Action Group conference is bringing together over 180 frontline advisers to get the latest details on what exactly is being proposed and share ideas on how new powers might be used to improve benefit support and tackle poverty more effectively.
“The discussion is crucial coming as it does against a backdrop of rising child poverty and the threat of further cuts to the UK benefits that families both in and out of work rely on.”