Wel­fare cuts in Tay­side and Fife ‘to reach £133m’

New gov­ern­ment re­port ex­poses ‘stark re­al­ity’ of Tory aus­ter­ity regime, says SNP min­is­ter

The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition) - - NEWS | POLITICS - GareTh mcpher­son po­liT­i­cal re­porTer gm­cpher­son@the­courier.co.uk

Con­ser­va­tive cuts will see ben­e­fits spend­ing slashed by £133m in Tay­side and Fife by 2020/21, ac­cord­ing to the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment.

SNP min­sters say the new anal­y­sis of the im­pact of UK ben­e­fit re­forms ex­poses the “stark re­al­ity” of the Tories’ aus­ter­ity drive since 2010.

The re­port es­ti­mates that wel­fare spend­ing in 2020/21 will be £30m lower in Dundee than if the Con­ser­va­tive Gov­ern­ment had not in­tro­duced any of its post-2015 cuts.

That is the equiv­a­lent of a £302 re­duc­tion for ev­ery work­ing age adult in the city – the third worst in Scot­land. It com­pares with £64m in Fife (£278 per adult), £18m in Angus (£252) and £21m in Perth & Kin­ross (£232).

Jeane Free­man, the so­cial se­cu­rity min­is­ter, said: “This re­port presents the stark re­al­ity of the UK Gov­ern­ment’s aus­ter­ity pro­gramme which im­poses un­just wel­fare cuts that not only con­tinue to cause mis­ery and push more peo­ple into poverty, but also di­rectly af­fect lo­cal economies across Scot­land and at­tract in­ter­na­tional crit­i­cism.”

Across Scot­land, the ben­e­fit cuts are fore­cast by St Andrew’s House of­fi­cials to be worth £3.9bn within five years.

That is a re­duc­tion based on the amount that would have been spent in Scot­land if the Con­ser­va­tive and Coali­tion gov­ern­ments had not pur­sued those so­cial se­cu­rity re­forms.

Un­der the Scot­land Act 2016, Holy­rood is tak­ing on new wel­fare pow­ers, which means MSPs will be able to off­set the im­pact of any cuts made at West­min­ster. It al­ready has re­spon­si­bil­ity for in­come tax.

A UK Gov­ern­ment spokes­woman called for the Scot­tish ad­min­is­tra­tion to “stop crit­i­cis­ing re­served UK Gov­ern­ment poli­cies” and in­stead re­veal how they would use the new pow­ers.

“The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment have pow­ers to both raise taxes and top up any re­served ben­e­fits, in­clud­ing those re­lat­ing to flex­i­bil­i­ties for Uni­ver­sal Credit pay­ments,” she said.

“We will con­tinue to work closely with the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to sup­port them on the in­tro­duc­tion of their new pow­ers to en­sure that the tran­si­tion is as smooth as pos­si­ble.”

Alex Row­ley, the Scot­tish Labour deputy leader, said Tory aus­ter­ity has “hurt the poor­est in Scot­land and across the UK”.

“Since the Tories first took power in 2010, Scot­land has been rav­aged by seven years of aus­ter­ity and dev­as­tat­ing cuts to so­cial se­cu­rity – and these fig­ures sug­gest the cuts could get even worse,” he added.

“The SNP also has the power to end much of this un­told mis­ery – but has so far re­fused to act.”

So­cial se­cu­rity min­is­ter Jeane Free­man says the UK Gov­ern­ment has im­posed un­just wel­fare cuts.

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