Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) have said there is nothing in the budget that will really help people who are struggling financially, and that the government does not understand the extent of the problems many hard working families are facing.
CAS Acting CEO Susan McPhee said:
“There is nothing in the budget that will seriously relieve the pressure on those who are suffering the most. People are crying out for some kind of financial help, and they did not receive it today.
“The government doesn’t seem to realise that many people are finding it difficult just to get through the week. Incomes have fallen as the cost of living has risen. People are really struggling to get by. Many can’t meet their mortgage or rent payments, or even feed their families. Personal debt is on the rise and young people in particular are finding it hard to get work. This is the real picture of life for many people in Scotland. CAB advisers see it every day and it is bleak.
“The announcement that there are to be welfare cuts of a further £10 billion over the next three years and 85,000 hard working families are already set to lose working tax credits this year is particularly concerning. Further cuts in the welfare system will only push families into or further into poverty and impact on local economies in Scotland.
“The reduction of the higher income tax rate from 50p to 45p would give someone earning £300,000 a year an extra £7500 a year. That’s 34 times more extra income than the £220 the average standard taxpayer is set to gain from increasing the personal tax allowance to £9205. That increase of £220 calculates to an extra 60 pence a day, just enough to buy a pint of milk.
“Today we believe the government has missed a real opportunity to support low income hard working families and instead increased the financial support of high earners. The government need to provide more support for those who really need it.
“What we can welcome in today’s Budget is additional financial support over the next two years for not for profit advice services in England who, like those in Scotland, have been hard hit by local authority cuts. They, like us, are facing a tsunami of people needing additional advice and support due to the higher cost of living, record unemployment and the Welfare Reform Act.
“However this announcement doesn’t necessarily mean any additional money goes to the citizen advice bureaux across communities in Scotland. Whilst we recognise that there is of course no obligation for the Scottish Government to use the additional funding it gets through Barnett consequential to support Scottish bureaux, we hope it will realise that there is currently enormous pressure on the citizens advice service in Scotland with many bureaux facing cuts and an increase in demand for their service.”