Tory Cuts & Cost Crisis Hitting Living Standards

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Incomes Down, Foodbank Use Up

Westminster cuts have led to “the biggest deterioration in living standards in living memory”, according to a new report from the Child Poverty Action Group.

The report points to “a gradual degradation of living standards since 2016 due to [UK government] cuts to social security.” It states that “investment in social security is needed to reverse the long-term damage” – underlining the need for Westminster to reverse its ongoing corrosion of welfare support by “scrapping the two-child limit and benefit cap and increasing child benefit by £20 a week.

It comes as new figures from the House of Commons Library show that the incomes of benefit claimants in Scotland have been slashed by up to almost 16% as a result of a decade of Tory austerity, while statistics from the Trussell Trust show foodbank use in Scotland up by a third.

The House of Commons figures, commissioned by the SNP, expose how those on legacy benefits – of which a disproportionate amount have disabilities and are more likely to face higher living costs – have seen their incomes reduced by up to 15.7% since 2010/11. Of Universal Credit claimants who are out of work, a lone parent aged over 25 with one child has seen the biggest reduction in income (-14.3%) since 2013/14, and a family of four has had their income cut by 14.1% over the same period.

In October 2021, half a million people in Scotland had their incomes slashed by £1040 overnight due to the Tories’ cut to Universal Credit. As of May 2022, the latest data available, there were a total of 391,373 Universal Credit claimants in Scotland.

The Trussel Trust report reveals that 116,000 emergency food parcels were distributed in Scotland in the six months from April to September – an increase of 34% when compared to the same period last year, and 65% when compared to five years ago. 40,000 of these parcels went to children.

It also notes that 27,000 people in Scotland used a foodbank for the first time in the last six months, and that more working people have been turning to food banks.

The Trussell Trust, which supports 121 food bank centres in Scotland, says the cost-of-living crisis has created a ‘tsunami of need’ and has urged the UK government to follow Scotland’s lead in developing a national plan to end the need for foodbanks.

– Graeme 

These latest reports and figures lay bare the devastating impact of successive Tory governments and their austerity agenda on the incomes of Scotland’s most vulnerable, with the repeated slashing of the social security safety net.

Again and again, the Tories have chosen to focus on making the rich richer – failing to take real action that would raise funds for public services, like scrapping non-dom status or fairly taxing the very wealthiest and large corporations.

Scotland is on a different path entirely, building a devolved social security system based on dignity, fairness and respect that provides key support not available elsewhere – but still 85% of welfare spending remains reserved to Westminster.

Scottish efforts are undermined on an ongoing basis by callous, destructive Westminster decisions – only with independence can we escape this for good and build the fairer, more equal society we want to see.