SNP MP FOR PERTH & PERTHSHIRE NORTH Stop benefits changes for the sake of our children
The Austerity Generation report published recently by the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), based on analysis by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), reveals working families with children have been hit hardest by Tory cuts, with losses reaching thousands of pounds a year.
CPAG says the Tory government has“broken”its promise of greater rewards from work, warning that universal credit cuts will put one million more children into poverty in a“colossal failure of public policy”and that Tory policies have created“an austerity generation whose childhoods and life chances will be scarred”.
The UK government must finally listen, halt the disastrous roll-out of universal credit and fix these deep-rooted problems before even more households are driven into hardship and destitution.
They could start by addressing the six-week wait, adding payment flexibility and looking again at work allowances to help make work pay.
Across society households are struggling from a Tory pay cut, with wages lower in real terms than a decade ago, rising living costs and cuts to basic support.
The chancellor must use the autumn budget to reverse these Tory cuts and take the long-overdue action needed to boost incomes.
Meanwhile, the bungling over Brexit continues to threaten the stability of every sector of our economy.
One such mess that could have a major impact is the question of EU payments to Scottish hill farmers to ensure they get every penny they are rightfully due.
The issue of Scottish farmers losing the convergence uplift – the money that the farming sector receives as a result of low payments per hectare – is now of deep concern as it is being withheld from Scotland, even though the only reason the UK qualified for the uplift was because of Scotland’s low payments under the current system.
The decision not to pass on convergence uplift will mean that Scotland will have one of the lowest average rates per hectare within the EU and Scottish farmers, whether livestock or arable, hill or lowland, will therefore be paid less than their counterparts in other parts of the UK.
I would hope that we can all agree that this is simply wrong and inherently unfair, especially as convergence uplift would have seen up to £190 million returned to Scotland instead of the £30 million or so we will receive under the UK Government allocation decision.
The current situation is simply untenable, with the UK government depriving Scottish farmers of what they are rightfully due. To leave them with anything less than every penny they are due would be totally unacceptable.
These two issues may seem very different but they are both about the way in which government ensures that money flows more fairly and contributes to the sort of society that benefits us all.
The botched job the Tories are doing could be very costly indeed.
Guests Pete Wishart MP and John Swinney MSP visit Perth and District YMCA recently. Picture by Richard Wilkins