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Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff & Buchan

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Welfare Benefits - Uprating : An Assault on the Working Poor

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

After the coalition relaunch yesterday the landscape of what Scottish families can expect between now and 2015 is being laid out with the second reading of the Welfare Benefits-Uprating Bill today at Westminster. It represents a further assault on the working poor.

The proposed cap of 1% on the uprating of working age benefits is a measure that will make people on low incomes even poorer, increase deprivation, and widen the gap between the haves and have nots in our communities.

SNP Work and Pensions spokesperson Eilidh Whiteford , MP for Banff and Buchan commented :

"The coalition cap will particularly hit parents in low paid work or in part time work who are already struggling to make ends meet because of the wider economic climate. Many people – particularly in lower paid private sector jobs - have had their working hours cut in recent times because of the economic downturn.

"Many people who are working part-time want to be working full time, but can’t find a full-time job, or pick up extra hours at the present time. And we’re all aware of the particular challenges for those who are juggling work with parenting or caring responsibilities in the context of reduced support for child care and changes to the tax credit system.

"A family with one full time earner on minimum wage, will be £13 a week worse off by 2015. A disabled lone parent of two children receiving the support component of ESA will see a comparable net loss of income in real terms. These calculations don’t include the cuts families like these will already have experienced through changes to the tax credit system and child care support. What these examples mask, though, is the disproportional impact the rising costs of living have on low income households.

"It is welcome news that Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is establishing an expert group which will advise on how a fairer welfare system can be introduced in an independent Scotland which will protect the vulnerable, support Scottish households, and ensure that work pays. With devolution the powers of the Scottish Government are currently limited, nevertheless the SNP Government is investing to mitigate the impact of Westminster cuts to communities. Together with partners in local government, £40 million is being invested in 2013/14 to ensure that over 560,000 people in Scotland are protected from the UK Government’s 10 per cent cut to Council Tax Benefit funding.

"An extra £9.2m has been allocated for the Scottish Welfare Fund which means an additional 5,600 Community Care Grants, and over 100,000 Crisis Grants for those groups who need help most.

"With a Yes vote in 2014 we would begin work to establish a welfare system that better reflects Scotland’s values, and ensures fair and decent support for those that need it most - a system that protects the vulnerable and supports households, rather than seeing them subject to unfair ideological benefit cuts from Westminster"

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