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Scottish Civil Society backs call to end the benefit freeze

Posted: 18/10/2017

Scottish Civil Society backs call to end the benefit freeze

Embargoed until 18 October

Forty-five organisations across Scotland have called on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to end the freeze on working age and children’s benefits in the November budget. Charities, trades unions and faith groups have joined to highlight the increasingly negative impact of the benefit freeze, particularly at a time of rising inflation. It is expected that the benefit freeze will be the main driver of rising poverty over the coming years. 

The freeze on most working-age and child related benefits was announced in the 2015 Summer Budget and includes:

•          Jobseekers’ Allowance

•          Child and Working Tax Credit excluding disability elements

•          Local Housing Allowances

•          Income support

•          Child benefit

•          Work Related Activity Group Employment and Support Allowance

•          Universal credit

 

The freeze means that these benefits will not be subject to uprating until 2019/20, and will remain the same cash value as in 2015/16. 

Research from Sheffield Hallam estimates that the freeze in working-age benefits will lead to losses of £300m in Scotland per year.  It is expected that this will affect 700,000 families in Scotland, with an average loss of £450 per year.

The organisations raised concerns that rather than creating a fairer social security system that supports people when they need it and helps them into employment, the freeze only serves to add pressure to already stretched budgets. 

Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, said:

“We believe that the time is right to reverse the freeze on working age and child benefits.

“If the Government is serious about supporting those who are ‘just about managing’ then it is vital that this unjustified and harmful policy is brought to an end.

“The freeze will have a lasting impact on the wellbeing of those affected by it, particularly children in Scotland and across the UK. 

“We would urge the UK Government to invest the resources required in this Budget to provide a better social security system for those who need it.”

Emma Ritch, Director of Engender added:

“In the years of austerity since 2010, 86 percent of net ‘savings’ raised through UK Government cuts to social security and tax credits will come from women’s incomes. As a result of these cuts, women have been put at greater risk of deeper and sustained poverty, with significant reduction in living standards.”

“The freeze on working age and child benefits will only serve to exacerbate women’s poverty, and we urge the Chancellor of the Exchequer to use the Budget to end the freeze and help create a fairer social security system.”

 Richard Frazer, Convener of the Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council, said:

“As the cost of heating and eating continue to rise, the freeze in benefits is increasingly forcing people into poverty rather than supporting them out of it. That is neither good for those directly impacted nor for our society as a whole.

“In every part of Scotland, the Church is encountering people who are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet.  That is not surprising. Since the freeze was put in place inflation is higher than was predicted so people on benefits have less money than was intended. On that basis alone, it is time to end the freeze.”

John Dickie, Director of Child Poverty Action Group said:

“The benefit freeze is pushing tens of thousands of children in Scotland and across the UK into poverty, with potentially devastating consequence for their health, education and long term life chances. The Chancellor must use this Budget to end the freeze and ensure that financial support for families, whether in or out of work, keeps pace with inflation.”

Bill Scott, Director of Policy at Inclusion Scotland added

“Because of their exclusion from employment, disabled people are more reliant on benefits for some or all of their income. This means that the benefits freeze has a disproportionate impact on them.  The freeze should end as it punishes the victims of discrimination and inequality”.”

Derek Mitchell, CEO of Citizens Advice Scotland said:

“Of all the recent welfare reforms, the benefits freeze has had one of the biggest impacts on the incomes of households in Scotland, but is one of the least talked about.

“The money people receive has decreased in real terms, meaning more and more clients are struggling to make ends meet.  A recent survey of CAB clients showed that, 40% on out of work benefits said they worried about money ‘all the time’ with 40% saying they ran out of money ‘more than once a month’.  This is consistent with increased demand for advice regarding food parcels (171% increase) and Crisis Grants (47%) which bureaux have seen since 2013.

“It is time to end the benefits freeze to help lift these families out of destitution and poverty.”

ENDS

For more information, please email carla.mccormack@povertyalliance.org or call 0141 353 0440.

You can read the letter here

Organisations supporting the

Alison Douglas

Chief Executive

Alcohol Focus Scotland

Rami Usta

Chief Executive

BEMIS Scotland (Empowering Scotland’s Ethnic and Cultural Minority Communities)

Annie Gunner Logan

Director

CCPS - Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland

John Wilson

Interim Chief Executive

Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland

John Dickie

Director

Child Poverty Action Group Scotland

Mary Glasgow

Interim Chief Executive

Children 1st

Jackie Brock

Chief Executive

Children in Scotland

Martin Johnstone

Secretary

Church & Society Council

Derek Mitchell

Chief Executive

Citizens Advice Scotland

Hugh Foy

Head of Programmes

Conforti Institute

Hilda Campbell

Chief Executive

COPE Scotland

Ewan Aitken

Chief Executive

Cyrenians

Layla Theiner

Director

Disability Agenda Scotland

Norman Kerr

Director

Energy Action Scotland

Emma Ritch

Director

Engender

Ian Galloway

Chair

Faith In Community Scotland

Helen Moore

Chair

Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations

Tressa Burke

Director

Glasgow Disability Alliance

Helen MacNeil

Chief Executive

Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector

Margaret-Ann Brunjes

Chief Executive

Glasgow Homeless Network

Drew Smith

Scottish Political Officer

GMB

Mike Dailly

Principal Solicitor

Govan Law Centre

Ian Welsh OBE

Chief Executive

Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland

Nathan Sparling

Head of Policy & Campaigning

HIV Scotland

Bill Scott

Director of Policy

Inclusion Scotland

Pete Ritchie

Executive Director

Nourish Scotland

Satwat Rehman

Director

One Parent Families Scotland

Elaine Downie

Co-ordinator

Poverty Truth Commission

Mark Serwotka

General Secretary

Public and Commercial Service Union

Shona Stephens

Chief Executive

Queens Cross Housing Association

Alastair Cameron

Chief Executive

Scottish Churches Housing Action

Fiona Garven

Director

Scottish Community Development Centre

Martin Sime

Chief Executive

Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations

Janis McDonald

Chief Officer

Scottish Council on Deafness

Dave Liddell OBE

Chief Executive

Scottish Drugs Forum

Dave Moxham

Deputy General Secretary

Scottish Trades Union Congress

Agnes Tolmie

Chair

Scottish Womens Convention

Peter Kelly

Director

The Poverty Alliance

Tony Graham

Director of Devolved Nation

The Trussell Trust

Dave Watson

Head of Policy & Public Affairs

Unison

Pat Rafferty

Scottish Secretary

Unite the Union

Allan Johnstone

Acting Chief Executive

Voluntary Action Scotland

Bernadette Monaghan

Chief Executive

Volunteer Glasgow

Claire Stevens

Chief Officer

Voluntary Health Scotland

Grant Sugden

Chief Executive

Waverley Care

 


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