Budget fails to deliver fundamental change

Responding to today’s Scottish Budget, Peter Kelly – director of The Poverty Alliance – said: “The foundation of our society and our economy is the public good we’ve created together. But it’s been weakened badly. Sadly, this Scottish Budget fails to deliver the fundamental changes we need to address poverty.

“We called for the Scottish Child Payment to increase to £30 per week now to help reach our interim child poverty targets, targets that are just three months away. It is extremely disappointing that the Scottish Government have chosen not to do this. If we are to deliver on the promise to lift thousands of children out of poverty then the Scottish Government must go further, now. Ultimately, we need the Scottish Child Payment to reach £40 a week – but the failure to deliver an above inflation increase now will make the prospect of hitting the long term targets much tougher.

“We welcome the changes to income tax announced today. They not only raise important revenue, but set out how we can make the Scottish tax system more progressive. However, these steps are just the first and we need to go further.

“The Cabinet Secretary told MSPs that she has no options on wealth taxes. We fundamentally disagree, and research from organisations like IPPR and the STUC show that much more can be done to reduce wealth inequality in Scotland and raise more to repair the fabric of our society. The most prominent form of wealth in Scotland is property, and the Scottish Government could have finally delivered the long-promised fundamental reform of our unjust and regressive council tax system.

“We await to see what local authority leaders have to say about funding for the council tax freeze, but our fear is that it will not be enough to protect the services that we all rely on, but which are a lifeline for many people struggling on low incomes. This freeze was badly thought-out, doing little to help people in poverty, while providing a bigger cash boost to wealthier households. The Scottish Government have framed this as a budget which will protect public services, but the freeze undermines that ambition.

“The Minister for Housing has noted that £700m had been wiped from the Affordable Housing Supply Programme budget by construction inflation. As a minimum, we had joined the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations in calling for this resource to be reinstated. Today’s announcement has failed to do this, and the Government has instead made further cuts to the housing budget. With a record number of homeless children living in temporary accommodation, this will have long-term consequences for the ability of families to find secure and affordable homes.

“We welcome the language used in the Budget around the values of equality, opportunity, and community. We welcome the commitment to a social contract, where those with the broadest shoulders contribute a bit more. But we need to see much more evidence of the Scottish Government turning those values into concrete action that will give people the freedom and security they need to build a life beyond poverty.”

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