The Chief Executive of Citizens Advice Scotland has today strongly urged MPs to vote against the UK Government’s Welfare Benefit Up-rating Bill which will go through its final stages today.
In a strongly worded letter to all Scottish MPs, Ms Lynch states:
‘CAS strongly urges MPs to speak and vote against this Bill which will impact on nearly ten million households – the equivalent of 30% of all UK households – and is the equivalent of a 4% real-terms cut.
‘This briefing emphasises that thousands of people across Scotland are already being badly affected by welfare changes and benefit cuts. The introduction of a three year cap on increases in the rate of the majority of benefits increases will make life even harder for thousands, especially the poorest families in our country.
‘The value of unemployment benefits has fallen from 21% of average earnings in 1979 to just 11% in 2010 and the UK government predicts that unemployment will remain around 8% during 2013. At the same time, living costs are spiralling. Since 2004 energy costs have risen by 100% and over the last five years, food costs have risen by more than 30%. The UK government predicts that unemployment will remain at the peak of 8% during 2013.
‘These cuts will not only affect individuals receiving the benefits, but will also impact on the Scottish economy. This change means a further £210 million less being spent in local shops and other businesses on top of the £2.5 billion which will also be lost to 2015 due to the raft of benefit changes and cuts already announced.
‘CAS is particularly disturbed by the disproportionate effect the bill will have on certain groups, particularly disabled people and women. The cumulative impact of this change on top of all the other welfare reforms will be severe.
‘Ultimately if welfare changes and benefit cuts drive people further into poverty, other problems such as health inequalities, homelessness, and family breakdown will occur. Tackling those problems further downstream will only add to the overall public spending bill, not reduce it. This along with the other welfare changes being introduced will have a devastating impact on people, services and communities across Scotland, the repercussions of which will be felt in the short, medium and long term.’
Notes to editors - click to expand/collapse
A briefing accompanying the letter is available below.