IDS must reject 'disgraceful' attack on benefit up-rating and re-think welfare reforms set to increase poverty in Scotland, say child poverty and disability campaigners

September 15, 2012

CPAG in Scotland and Inclusion Scotland

IDS must focus on rejecting ‘disgraceful’ attack on benefit rates and re-think welfare reforms set to increase poverty in Scotland, say child poverty and disability campaigners.

As Iain Duncan Smith visits Scotland today child poverty and disability campaigners called on the UK Work and Pensions Secretary to focus on rejecting further attacks on the value of benefits that support hundreds of thousands of working and out of work families in Scotland. They also called on him to rethink key welfare reforms that that are set to plunge more than 50 000 children into poverty by 2020.

Head of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, John Dickie, said;

“As Iain Duncan Smith visits Scotland his focus must be on making sure the disgraceful proposals from the UK government to break the link between benefits and living standards are rejected outright. Breaking the link between already inadequate benefit levels and inflation would be breaking the link with decency. It would condemn the poorest families in Scotland and across the UK to even greater poverty,

“The poorest families and children are already bearing the brunt of the UK Government’s austerity agenda. As one of the richest countries in the world it is beyond belief that the richest get a top rate tax cut while the poorest are being forced into deepening destitution”

“Whilst Iain Duncan Smith’s new Universal Credit in itself is forecast to reduce child poverty independent analysis (see note below) by the Institute of Fiscal Studies is absolutely clear that any reduction is more than wiped out by wider welfare cuts.”

Meanwhile, Bill Scott of Inclusion Scotland, a consortium of organisations of disabled people and disabled individuals, added;

“Tens of thousands of Scots disabled people were already standing to lose their benefits because of welfare reforms introduced by IDS. Now to add insult to injury those disabled people who manage to hold onto their benefits are being told that they will have to meet the constantly increasing cost of living with no help from the Government. IDS can freeze benefits but can the Government also freeze food, fuel and transport prices.? If not can he explain how people already living on a poverty level income can meet these extra costs?”

Notes to Editors
  • The value of unemployment benefit has already halved relative to earnings in the last 30 years, as shown in the chart below (Source: DWP Abstract of Statistics for Benefits, NI and Contributions, and Indices of Prices and Earnings - 2010).
  • Families affected by the proposal will already be below the poverty line, so the change will result in an increase in the most severe levels of poverty.
  • Analysis by the IFS http://www.ifs.org.uk/comms/comm121.pdf suggests that Universal Credit should, considered in isolation, reduce child poverty across the UK by 450 000 but this reduction is ‘more than offset” by wider changes to tax and benefits. The overall impact of UK tax and benefit changes is forecast to increase child poverty across the UK by 800 000 by 2020, a trend that would wipe out progress made in Scotland since 1998/99. UK welfare reforms pose a substantial threat to the wellbeing of children across Scotland.
For further comment contact

John Dickie, Head of CPAG in Scotland, on 0141 552 3656 or 07795 340 618